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Crackdown on canal water thieves ordered

Peshawar

June 2, 2020

MULTAN: The Punjab government has ordered strict measures against canal water theft and launched a crackdown in all the divisions, districts and ordered registration of FIRs against violators, the officials said on Monday.

The Punjab chief secretary issued a notification in this regard and ordered the administration in respective districts for launching an indiscriminate crackdown on the people involved in canal water theft and cutting the share of poor farmers. The notification was dispatched to all the commissioners and regional police officers in the province.

The notification said that opening of non-perennial channels had increased water demand in canals. The growing challenge was managing such a high demand against relatively low water availability and rising temperature for the Irrigation Department. The incidents of canal water theft were also increasing tremendously during the Kharif season, causing a lot of stress to the farmers particularly in the tail ends of water channels. Resultantly, both the farmers and the public representatives logically demand strict penal action against violators involved in canal water theft.

Instructions were conveyed in Kharif 2019 to all the divisional commissioners, deputy commissioners, RPOs and DPOs to support the drive against canal water theft under the supervisions of the Punjab Irrigation Department.

The chief secretary warned if any person found involved in such illegal act must be dealt with strictly as per law and the canal magistrates must be provided due support in the discharge of their duties.

The chief secretary issued instructions for the effective control of canal water theft and to improve equity and transparency in the system. He ordered all the commissioners, deputy commissioners and RPOs that already notified committees at the tehsil level under assistant commissioners concerned must be activated. The committees include the SDPO concerned and the concerned officers of the irrigation department.

He directed for intensive joint patrolling and raids on problematic channels and spots by the committees. In case the canal water theft was reported to police by an officers of Irrigation Department not blow the rank of sub-divisional officer in writing, FIRs should be duly registered under section 430-PPC and Section 70 read with section 13-A of the Canal and Drainage Act 1873. The offenses under Section 70 of the Canal and Drainage Act 1873 were cognizable and non-bailable as per Section 73-A of the said Act.

As per law, the accused should also be arrested so that the trial may take place before the magistrate. All the deputy commissioners should hold monthly meetings with DPOs, SEs and XENS of the Irrigation Department to review the progress on registration of canal water theft cases, submission of challans in the courts and recovery of tawan and to further improve the situation, progress of districts on this account shall also be monitored and evaluated by the Chief Secretary’s Performance Management and Reforms Unit, it said.