Idrees Ali

Budshah era irrigation canal vanishing at alarming speed

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Padshahi Kul

Ganderbal: Dug in 15th century AD during the reign of Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin (Budshah) Padshahi Canal more commonly known as Padshahi Kul is vanishing at fast speed because of wonton encroachment, pollution and urbanization.

According to locals, the 16 KM long canal was dug from river Sind in Ganderbal during the reign of Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin to provide drinking water to Srinagar city and also to irrigate the farmlands in Ganderbal and Srinagar.

Abdul Salam, a local resident said, "This canal used to provide water to suburban areas of Zakura, Awantibhwan, Nowshehra, Buchpora, Ahmad Nagar etc. Then through Srinagar it merges with river Jehlum. But due to pollution, encroachment and rapid urbanization most of its channels from Pandach onwards have vanished."

"The main canal has also shrunk at number of places from Head at Wayil to Pandach mainly due to encroachment, he added.

Abdul Majid, commenting on the death of the canal said, “Many farmers have abandoned farming and use their land for other purposes because of blockage of irrigation channels of the canal in Ahmad Nagar, Pandach, Gulabagh, Zakura and adjacent areas.”

Commercial and domestic waste is disposed in the Canal and concerned authorities are in slumber, locals said.

As per a study conducted by Irrigation Department, the canal had a cultivation command area  of 4580 acres out of which 4144 acres were being irrigated through Padshahi canal from Wayil to tail portion up to year 1994.

The irrigation network downstream Pandach was well established and was irrigating 11 revenue villages - Pandach, Gulab Bagh, Devipora, Bagaati Shoora, Zakura, Habbak, Umarhair, Saderbal, Awantibhwan, Buchpora and Anchar - till 1994. The command area for the portion was 2755 acres, the study said.

However, the government said in the past two decades the area has decreased considerably and has reduced to mere 988 acres as on 2013 with the result the canals got affected as these were either encroached upon by the land mafia or were changed into sewers.

In 2014, High Court orders action against the encroachment of the canal. The court said,"17 ft to 27 ft initially and  now the canal has shrunk to 3 ft to 5 ft. Need to restore its initial width."

"Irrigation and flood control department is doing very little to preserve the dying canal. The canal need regular repair and check on encroachment and pollution. Otherwise the canal will vanish in future,” says Altaf Lone an activist.

When contacted Ajaz Ahmad Khan, Executive engineer Irrigation and Flood Control Ganderbal, said, "We have​ made anti-encroachment squad. Whereever we will find encroachments we will act  against it.”

"For preservation and maintenance of the canal we are seeking funds from Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana. We have prepared a project report of 25 Corore rupees. As of now funds are not available. Whenever funds will be available, we will start repair of the canal from head to tail including distribution network," he added.

Sources said that people have converted the distribution channels into drains. And even Muncipal Committee Srinagar has converted the distribution channels into sewers without seeking permission from Irrigation and Flood Control Division Ganderbal, sources said.

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