Over Rs 700 crore in canal water user charges have not been recovered by the irrigation branch of the Public Works Department (PWD). As well as farmers, private firms and companies that use canal water have not recovered the user charges.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India’s annual review of the Water Resources (Irrigation) wing of the PWD found that farmers were able to recover Rs 675.37 crore, and private companies were able to recover Rs 40.48 crore.
By amending the Indian Canal & Drainage Act, 1873, the state government implemented a water cess of Rs 50 per acre per crop, rather than ‘abiana’ (charges) of Rs 150 per acre per crop. Water for irrigation was previously charged at 75 rupees per crop and 150 rupees for two crop seasons per year.
In order to ensure proper flow of water to farming fields, minors and distributaries will be maintained and cleaned. For this purpose, it is expected to mobilize Rs 200 crore per year. It is common for Punjab’s large canal network to require repairs on a regular basis.
After decades of collecting the ‘abiana’, the Revenue Department abolished it in 2014.
Water users committees will also be established at the XEN level. Funds are collected and deposited by this committee under the respective XEN. These funds are intended for the cleaning of minors and distributaries under the jurisdiction of respective committees.
In Bathinda division, Rs 44 crore is pending
27 irrigation units of the PWD have been audited by the CAG. With a recoverable amount of Rs 44 crore, Bathinda Canal division has the highest recoverable amount, followed by Abohar Canal division with Rs 43 crore.