Other States

Full share of water reaches Rajasthan’s Sidhmukh Canal Project after 18 years

Eighteen years after the construction of the Raslana distributary of the Sidhmukh Canal Project in Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh district, farmers at the tail-end have started getting their full share of water. The water had become insufficient because of illegal diversion through pipelines to the villages in neighbouring Haryana for its sale.

The district administration formulated a unique strategy to stop the theft of water by guarding the 64-km-long distributary round-the-clock earlier this month. Officers of the Police, Revenue, Agriculture, Fisheries, Zila Parishad and Labour Departments guarded the canal in cold and foggy weather for more than a week as part of a regulation mechanism.

Hanumangarh Collector Zakir Hussain told The Hindu on Saturday that the strategy to guard the distributary with the creation of a command hierarchy between January 12 and 20 had succeeded in checking the theft of water by local farmers as well as its diversion. “Instead of breaking illegal pipelines, we concentrated on patrolling alongside the canal. It ensured a complete halt to water being stolen,” he said.

Patrol teams deployed in Nohar and Bhadra tehsils, which included women officials, made rounds every 20 to 25 minutes, making it impossible for the water thieves to operate. Thirty teams of officials, who performed their duty fearlessly, posted their pictures regularly to 45 supervisory officers to mark their presence and ensure that no thief could get access to the distributary.

Mr. Hussain said the exercise for delineation and fortification of agricultural fields getting water from the Raslana distributary would be completed by March. A “concrete regulation strategy” was being planned to prevent the theft of water in future, he said. The distributary irrigates 57,625 hectares of land in the command area.

The Raslana distributary and its outlying Aapuwala, Raisinghpura and Charnawali minors were constructed in 2002 after the completion of the Sidhmukh irrigation project for utilisation of excess waters of the Ravi and Beas rivers. The farmers never received their full share of water during the last 18 years because of theft which could not be controlled.

After the farmers and MLAs of the region raised the issue several times, the State government had sanctioned ₹2 crore in 2014 for protecting the distributary. Illegal wells and pipelines laid two to three feet below the land surface were destroyed during a five-day drive in 2014, but the farmers at the tail-end still did not get full water.

Raslana Sangharsh Samiti president Krishna Saharan said since the farmers had now started getting full irrigation waters, the crop yield was expected to increase significantly. Against the previous yield of gram, ranging between one and one-and-a-half quintals per bigha, the production would touch 5 to 6 quintals per bigha this year, he said.

Farmers in Rajasthan have been given the right to manage the affairs of canals under the Farmers’ Participation in Management of Irrigation Systems Act, 2000. The election of chairpersons of water utilisation associations enables them to control works such as delineation of areas, fixing the turn of fields to get water, sanctioning new heads, and maintenance and cleanliness of distributaries.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 9:30:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/full-share-of-water-reaches-rajasthans-sidhmukh-canal-project-after-18-years/article33646396.ece

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