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Water, power woes deepen
Bhakra curbs to hit paddy in region
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 11
Punjab and Haryana will have less water for irrigation of their paddy fields from tomorrow with the Bhakra Beas Management Board reducing outflows from Bhakra Dam by 3,000 cusecs a day.

The decision, taken in conjunction with partner states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan to ensure that the dam fills up to an optimum level and prepare it for the next depletion period starting from September 30, will also mean a reduction in hydroelectric generation by at least 20 lakh units daily. The Bhakra project is producing around 180 lakh units at present.

The decision to reduce water outflows from the current 21,000 cusecs daily to the three partner states to 18,000 cusecs is likely to affect south-west Punjab, including Ferozepur and Bathinda districts, besides adjoining parts of Haryana, which are dependant on canal water.

State Chief Engineer, Irrigation, Vinod Choudhary said with the new regulation in place supplies were expected to be 40 per cent less than demand. All canals in the state would have to be run on a rotational basis due to the reduced water availability.

According to the new rotational programme in force from tomorrow till August 19, channels of Sirhind canal and direct distributaries of Bhakra Main Line will be run on a priority basis with balance supplies being distributed to their branches.

Top agricultural officers in Punjab and Haryana said reduced flow of water in canals would have an adverse affect on paddy as it was transplanted late this year due to partial monsoon. Agri experts say farmers may have to depend on rain in the coming few days to save their paddy crops in areas supplied by canals in both states.

Punjab Agriculture Director BS Sidhu said farmers going in for diesel power generators to save their paddy crop due to unavailability of canal water would see a steep increase in their inputs.

Except for three days of vigorous rain from August 6 to 8 when inflows into Bhakra Dam increased to around 60,000 cusecs daily and resulted in a 4-ft increase in its level, this seasonís inflows have been similar to those received by the dam during the dry season. Yesterday, the inflows were recorded at 36,000 cusecs.

According to the dam authorities, a decision to reduce inflows has been taken because of a depleting Bhakra level, which stands at 1,590 ft currently compared to the level of 1,656 ft recorded last year on the same day.

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