Perneet Singh -Tribune News Service
Bathinda, June 9
The Irrigation Department’s move to stop canal water supply apparently to dissuade paddy plantation before June 13 may take a toll on cotton crop, which is already bearing the brunt of soaring temperatures in the region. However, the department argues that Sirhind Canal has been shut for maintenance of water channels.
Talking to The Tribune, Ram Singh, a small farmer from Chauke village, said, “I have sown cotton on 2 acres, but I am finding it difficult to protect it from extreme hot weather. In the absence of canal water supply, I had to seek help from a fellow farmer and use his borewell to irrigate my land.”
He said the government should restore canal water supply at the earliest in the interest of cotton farmers. Ajaypal Singh, a farmer from Ghudda village, who too had sown cotton on 1 acre, said they desperately needed water. Jagsir Singh of Jhumba village said it was almost a week now that the canal water supply had been shut. He said the borewell water was not fit for irrigation of cotton fields, but the farmers were left with no option in the prevailing scenario.
BKU Ekta (Ugrahan) leader Shangara Singh Mann said, “The department has deliberately stopped canal water supply so as to stop the farmers from planting paddy before June 13. But the cotton farmers are paying the price for it. The government talks of diversification, but its deeds don’t match its words. The cotton growers will not only suffer economic losses, but will also switch to paddy, if their crop doesn’t survive the fury of weather.”
GS Bahia, XEN, Irrigation Department, said, “The Sirhind Canal has been closed for the maintenance of small water channels. Earlier, the Agriculture Department had stopped us from closing the supply due to cotton crop. Now, in the coming days, water will be required for paddy and we are thus carrying out the maintenance work.”
Meanwhile, SAD chief Sukhbir Badal has hit out at the government over the alleged denial of canal water to the farmers. On his Facebook page, Sukhbir posted, “Thousands of farmers in Malwa region, who were dependent on canal water for drinking and irrigation, are in dire straits, as the Congress government is not making any effort to augment supply at Harike works. Inadequate canal water supply in Fazilka, Ferozepur, Muktsar and Faridkot has affected the cotton crop in these districts. In view of the fact that paddy transplantation is due, the situation could worsen for farmers.”