Punjab cautions farmers

Sarabjit Pandher

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab government has advised farmers to plan their kharif crops keeping in view the receding water level in all the three dams in the State. This will result in the rationing in release of water into the three major irrigation systems.

The precarious situation is due to the “extraordinary delay” in the arrival of the Southwest monsoon this year and negligible rainfall in the catchments of the Bhakra, Pong and Ranjit Sagar dams. This has forced the authorities to go in for rationing in the three major irrigation systems, including Sirhind, Bhakra and the UBD canals, which provide water to 12 lakh hectares in the Malwa and Majha districts. The decision may also impact the supply of drinking water to urban areas, which depend on these canals.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has decided to call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to apprise him of the grim situation. He proposes to seek special funds to purchase power and special rates of diesel for the farm sector. The State is reeling under the impact of heat wave and power cuts that extend to not less than eight hours in the urban areas.

State Irrigation Minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon said the water level in the Bhakra, Pong and Ranjit Sagar dams was recorded at 1504.36 feet, 1275.43 feet and 501 metres against last year’s 1594.5 feet, 1308.10 feet and 513 metres respectively. At Bhakra, the outflow was 28,000 cusecs and the inflow 26,747 cusecs. In the Pong dam, the outflow was 5,008 cusecs and the inflow 2,095 cusecs and in the Ranjit Sagar dam, the outflow was 11,150 cusecs against an inflow of a mere 3,940 cusecs.

Mr. Sekhon claimed that the situation had been aggravated with the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) “unilaterally releasing” 2.60 lakh cusecs of water to Rajasthan in May over and above its due share.