The controversy over the release of black water in the Ferozepur feeder channel continued on Friday, with the Punjab Water Resources Department stating that it had issued a warning on May 16 saying that the water was only released “due to the regular demand for water for irrigation from Rajasthan”.
The management said their advisory categorically states that the water released into the Ferozepur feeder from May 17 onwards can only be used for irrigation and not for drinking.
Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) sparked controversy on Thursday by saying that black water fed through the Ferozipur canal can be used for drinking if treated properly.
The advisory states that in order to stop the release of polluted waters into rivers, the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) was also setting up SoPs to run the Harike Headworks business.
“We had a review meeting in this regard via video conference. Water samples were taken by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) and their Rajasthan counterparts. It was found that as per the current situation, the water arriving at Harike Cape stations can only be used for irrigation. Bikaner Canal takes water from Harike excavations and needs water for irrigation in Rajasthan districts. Hence we decided to send water for irrigation only.”
On March 16, farmers from Rajasthan visited Harik’s vertical mills and threatened to organize our house if the water for their state is not released from there. They said that Rajasthan was largely dependent on the canal waters coming from the works of Ras Harike via Ganganagar Canal or Bikaner Canal and Rajasthan Canal for its survival.
The 650 km Rajasthan Canal – which begins at Harike Barrage in Harike, a few kilometers from the confluence of the Satluj and Beas rivers in Punjab and ends at irrigation facilities in the Thar desert in northwest Rajasthan – is already under repair at the Thandiwala point of Muktsar. After breaching the Sirhin feeder next to it. The flooded Sirhind feeder of Rajasthan Canal is under repair.
The black waters of the Ganganagar Canal, which is also fed by the Ferozepur feeder canal, has set off alarm bells among the locals. The same water also goes to the eastern channels of Punjab that flow into the Fazilka district of Punjab.
Rajat Swami, spokesperson for the BJP’s Ganganagar unit, “The polluted water is often supplied via Punjab canals. I raised the matter with Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann in the past. So far, Rajasthan is being supplied with black water. Punjab needs to find a solution where Rivers should not be used as a landfill for industrial effluents and sewage waste.”
Dr. Pawan Saini, a physician at Civil Hospital, Ganganagar said, “This water contains heavy metals, apart from being contaminated with bacteria. This is a serious issue and needs immediate solution.”