AMRITSAR, Punjab, India: The public outcry after the closure of Uppar Bari Doab Canal about three weeks ago fell on deaf ears of the government. This unannounced and untimely shut down of the irrigation system serving two border districts of Amritsar and Gurdaspur, has caused a severe damage to the crops in 7.5 lacs acres of land. Moreso the three power houses depending upon the U.P.D.C. system has also been shut down, resulting in power cut in these areas.

It is also learnt that the supply of water to the Sarovar of the Golden Temple, Amritsar, has also been is disrupted, resulting in great resentment in the hearts of the Sikhs. It is understood that the flow of water of river Ravi to Pakistan is unaffected as no bund has so far been constructed as contemplated at the time of partition of the country. A bund constructed near Dharam Kote, Randhawa has been washed away.

A consequence of the closure of the Canal, the irrigation is also affected in the common area of Lahore in Pakistan.

This closure also affected the hydraulic irrigation system near Pathankot. It has also affected the water level at Therm Dam water reservoir area.

The present closure of the irrigation system means that the farmers would have to wait for irrigation facilities for another six weeks. The farmers are questioning the wisdom of the government in shutting down the canal at this juncture. They are saying, “Was this shut down essential at this time?” Was a proper notification issued? It is surprising that no prior information was given to the public about this closure. The farmers are strongly agitated at this closure of the canal for the repairs. According to the observers, this closure of the canal, and other means of irrigation avenues, is considered as of great economic and political significance. Some people are openly pointing out that it was an attempt to destroy the economy of these two districts, for the spurt in the activities of Sikh freedom fighters that are fighting for the achievement of Khalistan.

Article extracted from this publication >> February 12, 1988