Monday, September 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Upstream water thefts dry up tail end
Raman Mohan

HISAR: Once its pride, Haryana’s canal systems have virtually collapsed, thanks to an estimated four lakh cases of theft of water by farmers annually. As a result the tail-ends all over the state continue to be dry although there is adequate water available at channel heads, the present drought conditions notwithstanding.

Investigations by The Tribune show that during the first preferential orders in July, 158 out of 295 channels in the jurisdiction of six canal divisions of Bhakra Water Services Circle I, Hisar and Yamuna Water Services Circle, Bhiwani, were running short at the tails. Significantly, 107 of these 158 channels were completely dry at the tail-ends during the period.

It is learnt that the availability of water at the heads of these branch canals was equal to or almost equal to the indents placed. The indent is usually 5 to 10 per cent more than the requirement which, in effect, means that despite adequate supply of water at the heads, half the canals were running dry at the tail-ends. Sources said the situation in area of the Bhakra canal and the Western Yamuna canal was even worse.

The thefts upstream are so rampant that these leave the tail-ends dry. For instance in November last year Hansi division in this district was found to be consuming 590 cusecs of water against its share of 335 cusecs. As a consequence, the Siwani canal had to go completely dry. The situation was found to be the same in other areas too. The excess withdrawals were due to thefts, sources said.

Official records show that just two raiding parties conducted raids on the nights of July 25 and 26 last on the Barwala branch, Balsamand sub-branch and the Rana distributory and 88 cases of theft were detected. As many as four to six cases were detected just along 500-metre-long stretches of the canals. Likewise, the Rana distributory alone reported 153 cases of theft between July 10 and 17 last. In Hisar division alone, 1789 cases were detected during rabi 2001-2002. There are 47 running canal divisions in the state.

Sources said about four lakh cases of theft were detected every year but only a quarter of these were reflected in the files. This is because officers avoid litigation as they had to attend the courts for disposal of these cases and their work-loads did not afford them time for this lengthy exercise. Secondly, there is a shortage of manpower and infrastructure to prevent thefts. As a result half the cases went undetected. They also admitted that Irrigation department staff too connived with the farmers stealing power. In most cases officials simply confiscated or destroy the pipes used for theft.

(To be concluded)

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