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Punjab Canals & Drainage Bill-2023 to ensure uninterrupted canal water supply for farmers


Chandigarh: The Punjab Vidhan Sabha today unanimously passed "the Punjab Canals and Drainage Bill-2023" to ensure uninterrupted canal water supply for farmers, maintenance of water courses and early and transparent redressal of grievances. The bill was presented by Water Resources Minister S. Chetan Singh Jauramajra.

Divulging further in this regard, S. Jauramajra informed that the main objective to enact the Punjab and Drainage Bill

is to ensure hindrance free canal waters to farmers and land owners for irrigation purposes, maintenance, repair and timely cleanliness of canals, drainages and natural water courses, a fair and transparent mechanism for redressal of grievances of water users and other regulatory restrictions against unnecessary wastage of water.

The Cabinet Minister said that the bill provides that the state government will provide means of crossing canals and other natural water bodies. "The government shall provide and maintain suitable means of crossing canals for the reasonable convenience of the inhabitants of the adjacent lands", said the Cabinet Minister, adding that the government may issue a general policy for bridge or ramps (fields paths, foot bridges etc.) on canal from time to time as and when required.

Similarly, settlement of disputes between the land owners related to the maintenance and cleaning of the water courses, will be ensured. If any person, jointly responsible with others for the construction or maintenance of a watercourse, or jointly making use of a watercourse with others, neglects or refuses to pay his share of the cost of such construction as maintenance, or to execute his share of any work necessary for such construction or maintenance, the Divisional Canal Officer, on receiving an application shall investigate and make orders as he may deem fit.

The Water Resources Minister said that provision has also been made for maintenance of water courses under the bill. Apart from this, restoration of demolished or altered water course will be ensured. If a person demolishes, alters, enlarges or obstructs a watercourse or a temporary watercourse or causes any damage thereto, any person affected thereby may apply to the Sub-Divisional Canal Officer for directing the restoration of the same to its original condition.

He said that when canal or river water is supplied to forts or other military buildings, cantonment, civil station, cities, towns, railway, public garden or other places of public resort, industrial units, power plants and bulk users, beverages and bolted water industry, drinking water supply (including Railways and Army), fish pond and brick making and water construction work or any other non-irrigation use either by filing of tanks or by direct flow, contracts at special rates may be accepted by the Divisional Canal Officer with the previous sanction of the State Government.

The Cabinet Minister further said, responsibility will be fixed even in case of water wastage, adding that there is a provision in the bill that any vessel entering or navigating any canal contrary to the rules made in that behalf by the State Government, or so as to cause danger to the canal or the other vessels therein, may be removed or detained, or both removed and detained, by the Divisional Canal Officer, or by any other person duly authorised in this behalf. He said that whenever it appears to the State Government that injury to any land or the public health or public convenience has arisen or may arise from the obstruction of any river, stream or drainage-channel, the State Government may, by notification published in the Official Gazette, prohibit within limit to be defined in such notification, the formation of any obstruction, or may, within such limits, order the removal or other modification of such obstruction.

He said that the State Government may, by notification published in the Official Gazette, establish water user associations (WUAs) to inculcate a sense of ownership amongst stakeholders. The water user associations may assist Canal Officers.

S. Chetan Singh Jauramajra said that with the passing of the Punjab and Drainage Bill, the "Northern India Canal and Drainage Act, 1873 (Central Act VIII of 1873)", in its application to the State of Punjab, has been repealed. But, such repeal shall not affect any application, appeal or revision pending before the commencement of this Act or filed thereafter against any order passed before the commencement of this Act; and any right of appeal or revision, if any, in respect of an order passed under clause (a), and such application, appeal or revision shall be continued and disposed of by the competent authority under theprovisions of the repealed Act.

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