Eight farmers booked for water theft from canal in Jalalabad

Fazilka, June 14: A case of an organised theft of water from non-perennial southern canal by affluent farmers has come to the fore in the district. A number of pipes laid from the canal to the fields in an illegal manner has been seized.

Official sources said rich farmers of villages in the politically influential Jalalabad constituency had allegedly been stealing water for many years in connivance with officials of the Irrigation Department.

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A police team, led by Khui Khera SHO and SDO, Irrigation, Pawan Bishnoi, seized pipes and motors from different locations.

Those booked included Hari Chand and Mahinder Kumar, who reportedly owed allegiance to the Akali Dal. They have been booked under Section 379 IPC, Section 70 of the Canals Act and Section 3 of the Punjab Prevention of Damage to Property Act. The remaining six farmers are yet to be identified. Bishnoi said the department had issued challans to 19 farmers and police action against them was yet to be taken.

The sources said some farmers from villages located at the tail end of the canal, led by former MLA Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, had informed Deputy Commissioner Isha Kalia about the water theft, following which action was taken. At Shajrana village, it was found that some farmers had installed motors and laid pipes many feet below the land, between the canal and their fields.

Sidharth Rinwa of Bareka village and Hardip Dhaka of Khanpur village, whose land is located at the tail end of the canal, said at least 18 villages had been facing scarcity of water due to the theft.

The illegal activity was going on at Shajrana, Singhpura, Chahlanwali and Tahliwala Bodla villages for the last about one decade. Some villagers alleged that farmers had been selling water after stealing it.

Amar Kumar Siag of Lakhewali village alleged that they had been raising the matter for long, but the police failed to act against the accused.

Fazilka DSP Narinder Singh said eight farmers had been booked and action would be taken against them after getting report from the Irrigation Department.

When contacted, Superintending Engineer, Irrigation, HS Chahal said he had directed the officials concerned to take stern action against those responsible for the theft.

Source Tribune India