Chandigarh: In the era of free electricity in Punjab, canal water has not been a priority for most farmers. The state has lagged behind in using its share of canal water. Rajasthan and Haryana have been taking shares from the waters of Sutlej, Ravi and Beas for the past few years.

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann also expressed concern over the lack of preferential use of canal water at the ‘Sarkar-Kisan Meet’ yesterday.

According to the government’s data, it seems that by providing free electricity in Punjab, farmers are giving priority to ground water instead of canal water. On the other hand, according to the farmers, the governments have failed to provide canal water to the fields.

As of January 31, the Punjab government has utilised only 40 per cent of its share of water from the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej during the current financial year. Rajasthan, on the other hand, has so far used 85 per cent of the canal water and Haryana 61 per cent.

Officials say that Rajasthan has to use its share and start demanding more water again. From 2016-17 to 2021-22, Punjab has never used 100 per cent of its due share of sutlej water. During these years, Punjab has used less water than its due share in 2018-19 from the waters of Ravi and Beas. Punjab currently has 14.50 lakh agricultural tubewells.

Punjab currently has 14.50 lakh agricultural tubewells. It is drawing 26.69 billion cubic metres (BCM) of water annually out of a total of 28.02 billion cubic metres for irrigation alone. In Punjab, only 17 blocks are left in the safe zone. Besides Patiala, Sangrur, Fatehgarh Sahib, farmers in Doaba are using groundwater, officials said.

Jasvir Singh Dhiman, president of the PSEB Engineers Association, said that it has been seen in the field that farmers prefer tubewell water by providing free electricity. It is worth mentioning that the subsidy bill of agricultural electricity becomes about Rs 7,000 crore annually.

On the other hand, in the districts of Mansa, Bathinda, Faridkot, Fazilka, Ferozepur and Barnala etc. of Malwa, there are complaints of water not reaching the fields of the farmers even yesterday farmers held a protest. Bhartiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) president Harinder Singh Lakhowal said that the governments could not reach the canal water to the fields. In times of need, the canal is closed and the canals and reservoirs are not even cleaned.

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