The residents of Cholistan will get 250 cusecs canal water during the flood season, The Express Tribune has learnt.
During his visit to Cholistan on March 21, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had announced a 250 cusecs perennial supply for drinking water from the Desert Branch Canal.
An Irrigation Department official said the promised water could be supplied only during the flood season (mid-June to mid-August) if water availability in the Lower Bahawal Canal System at Lal Suhanra is above 4,000 cusecs.
Four distributaries – Ladamsar, Derawar Branch, 2-L Salary and Dahri – irrigated more than 665,360 acres in Cholistan until 1932 when those were shut down and made flood channels.
During his visit to Bahawalpur in 2002, former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf had announced a perennial supply for drinking water to Cholistan areas in Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar and Rahim Yar Khan districts.
After the Irrigation Department proposed a plan to provide water to Cholistan, it was challenged in court by some farmers who said it would affect their fields irrigated by supplies from the Desert Branch. The court had then directed the government to provide 250 cusecs water to Cholistan through flood channels. The Desert Branch is a perennial channel irrigating 66,546 acres from Lal Suhanra to up to Ahmadpur. Following the chief minister’s announcement, the Irrigation Department again examined the situation, the official said.
He said flood channels received water from the Desert Branch from June 15 to August 15. The conversion of flood channels into perennial channels would require cutting the share of lands irrigated by the Deert Branch.
He said such conversion would be opposed by farmers whose share of water from the flood channels would be cut.
He said the department had sent a summary to the chief minister maintaining that it was not possible to convert the flood channels into perennial channels. Irrigation Department Secretary Captain (r) Saif Anjum said Cholistan would be given 250 cusecs of water through flood channels when water availability in Lower Bahawal Canal System was more than 4,000 cusecs.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2014.