Water scarcity leaves farmers high and dry - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Monday, July 8, 2019

Water scarcity leaves farmers high and dry

Water scarcity leaves farmers high and dry

Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 7

Alleging that the government is unable to provide even one-third of canal water for irrigation and much of the supply is polluted, farmers have decided to hold a statewide protest on Monday.

Over one lakh farmers across the state, under the umbrella of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, would hold protests outside the offices of the department of drainage and irrigation.

They are peeved at the government and the department’s failure to clean drains in time and provide them adequate water for irrigation. The protests will be held in Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ferozepur, among other places.

Farmers say while the department had promised that water from Bist Doab in Doaba would irrigate at least 40,000 acres, it has failed to achieve even a third of the target. They say various smaller drains, rivulets and tributaries of water body have dried up and the government has done nothing to revive them. Its failure to clean drains is only adding to the problem, they said.

While water in the canal was released a few days ago, it has gone dry again as the supply has been stopped. The government had promised over 20,000 acres (40,000 acres across Doaba) of farmland in Jalandhar (of the total 4.25 lakh acres under paddy cultivation), shall be irrigated by Bist Doab canal. In Doaba, the canal caters to Jalandhar, including parts of Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala. At Goraya alone, about 14,000 acres have been pegged to be irrigated by the canal. Farmers say water has failed to reach many villages on the promised stretch.

Satnam Singh Pannu, president, Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, said, “Farms are not being watered as per the established maps for irrigation. Water is released from Ropar headworks, but due to failure in cleaning of canals and rampant pollution, a majority of the areas are without water and farmers are bearing the brunt. It is the same story across Gurdaspur Jalandhar, Fazilka and Abohar. There are villages where the canal water is so dirty and chemical-ridden that it damages crops and affects the health of farmers.”

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