ISLAMABAD - Canals taking off from rivers Indus, Jhelum and Chenab would remain close for a month long period as the Punjab Irrigation Department has decided to start desilting of waterways during Rabi 2012-13 from tomorrow (Sunday).

The Indus River System Authority (Irsa) has already decreased water discharge from Tarbela dam on river Indus to 15,000 cusecs and from Mangla dam to 10,000 cusecs, which is largely being used for electricity generation from hydropower houses of Tarbela, Mangla and Ghazi Barotha. Though these hydel power-generating units have the capacity of 6,500MW on daily basis yet they are currently producing less than 1,000MW electricity.

The Punjab Irrigation Department has six zones including Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan, Bahwalpur, Faisalabad, Sargodha and Lahore to irrigate more than 87 lack acres of entire province, which would remain close from December 30 to January 29, 2013. “The Chief Engineers of these zones would lead annual de-silting of waterways with the help and support of farmers as well as provincial government’s funds,” a senior official of the Punjab Irrigation Department aware of the matter told. He added that Punjab government has provided 80 per cent reduced funds in comparison to previous year’s allocation for the purpose. Around 746 big and small canals of entire province would remain close for annual de-silting purposes during above said span of time.

The official while sharing schedule of canal closure told that Upper Pakpattan canal on December 30 to January 16, Lower Pakpattan canal January 12 to January 29, Trimmu canals and Trimmu Sidhani (TS) Link canal on January 10 to January 27, Sidhnai canal and Sidhnai Mailsi (SMB) link January 11to January 28, Lower Bahawal canal and Thaal canal January 13, Panjnad canals January 3 and Taunsa canals on 31 December would remain close. He also informed about the closure schedule of those canals which take off from Rasul, Khanki, Marala, Qadirabad, Balloki, Sulemani, Sidhnai and Panjnad irrigation head-works that lower Jhelum, Rasul Qadirabad link and upper Chenab canals will be closed on December 26 (today) Qadirabad Balloki link and central Bari canals on December 27, lower Barri Doab canal and Balloki Slemanki link on December 29, Eastern Sadiqia Canal on December 30, Upper Jhelum canal on January 12, Lower Chenab canal on January 13, and Upper Bahawal canal on January 13 for de-silting purposes and to save water and avoid seepages in canal irrigated areas. 

It merits mentioning here that farmers and common public woes and worries would increase due to short of rains and long hours electricity outages for a long time coupled with presence of brackish water in South Punjab areas. Similarly, scale of miseries of the masses would further increase with each passing day, as the canal closure would start in the province. People of Punjab province as a whole are bearing heavy brunt of long hours electricity outages coupled with high price of diesel for a long time.