Punjab Farmers protest, demand more water for irrigation

Farmers from Punjab's four districts of the Majha belt — Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur and Pathankot staged a protest outside the Irrigation Department here demanding an increase in the sanctioned water release to the Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) so that their irrigation needs are met better.

The farmers demanded the rejuvenation and renovation of the UBDC system so that water could be made available to maximum number of fields. Farmers’ leader Rattan Singh Randhawa said, “We demand that the sanctioned water limit for the entire UBDC system is increased to 12,000 cusecs.”

He said the sanctioned water for Khara Majha (named so because of its brackish underground water) should also be increased to 7.50 cusecs every thousand acres and the same should also be increased to 6.5 cusecs per 1,000 acres from the present 5.15 cusecs.

Jamhoori Kisan Sabha president Dr Satnam Singh Ajnala said, “Nearly 4,000 cusecs of water from the UBDC system is at present being diverted into the Beas from Bheempur area.” He said the same water should be ideally provided to agricultural fields so as to save groundwater reserves.

Farmer leaders submitted a memorandum to the office of the superintending engineer, UBDC, and demanded that in view of the depletion of the water table at an alarming rate, the farmers must be provided with canal water available in abundance.

“To save water, we have also demanded that underground pipes are used to transport water to fields from canal minors instead of the present system of open irrigation channels,” said Raghbir Singh Pakiwa.

The farmer leaders stated that officials of the UBDC had assured them of a meeting with the Superintending Engineer within a week so as to discuss their demands.

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