To fill empty coffers, Punjab to revise charges for use of river, canal water

To fill empty coffers, Punjab to revise charges for use of river, canal water
Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh presides over the Cabinet meeting held at Punjab Bhawan in Chandigarh on Wednesday. Express

Cash-strapped Punjab government Wednesday decided to revise charges for the use of river, canal water for purposes other than agriculture.

The farmers in the state get free canal water supply for irrigation purposes. Punjab Cabinet gave has now given its nod to revise water charges levied on industries, municipal corporations and private thermal plants. It remains to be seen if municipal corporations would pass the burden to domestic consumers.

A government statement said the proposed rates are at par with neighbouring state of Haryana, and the revision is expected to increase the revenue generated from water charges from the existing Rs 24 crore per annum to Rs 319 crore per annum.

The decision was taken in view of the fact that the state government needed to mobilise additional resources, including for maintenance of canal network, which is spread along 14,500 km across the state and has deteriorated with passage of time, \the statement said. It added that most of the distributaries and minors were lined 30 to 40 years back during 1980s, and regular cleaning, twice a year, is required to run the canals efficiently so as to ensure authorised discharge at tail ends.

Apart from Irrigation, the canal network supplies water in bulk to various institutions such as thermal power plants, industries, municipal corporations through canals and rivers.

Likewise, beverage and bottled water industry, drinking water supply (including railways and army), fish ponds, brick making and water for construction work also utilise bulk supply of water for operations.