LAHORE -  The Irrigation Department has approved stringent laws after failing to curb water theft and collection of abiyana (water rate) and fines from defaulters. Now the water theft would be an unbailable crime and the canal officers’ proceedings would be out of civil court jurisdiction.

Due to absence of this law, the collection of abiyana could be possible only 43 per cent in the current year while it was around 97 per cent last year when this law was prevailing whereas only 2 per cent fines could be recovered. The Irrigation Department held responsible of these failures to ‘stay orders’ issued by civil courts.

To make collection drive more effective and give more power to Canal Officer, the Punjab Government would made amendment and addition in section 14B of Canal and Drainage Act 1873. The bill would be table in Punjab Assembly next session for approval.  The Irrigation Department has sent proposals and recommendations to Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif for his approval who later said that agriculture is the backbone of our economy as canal water has vital role in agri sector. He further said that in the peak season, few influential farmers involve in water theft while most of farmers at tail end could not get proper water share hence they could not get proper crops, he added.