Changer irrigation scheme in Himachal nears completion, Shahnehar hits snags

Shimla: With the state holding potential of less than one percent of its area being brought under major or medium irrigation schemes, the Rs 88 crore Changer project in Bilaspur, nearing completion, would give a boost to productivity by providing assured irrigation to 2350 hectares of farm lands.

Director Central Water Commission, Dorje Gyamba disclosed, “the Changer lift irrigation project, which was in an advanced staged of completion, would prove a boon for an otherwise arid region in Naina Devi tehsil of Bilaspur district.”

“Water drawn out of Anadpur Sahib hydel channel has been lifted and distributed through 6 rising main pipelines for providing irrigation to 28 villages,” he said.

The project envisaged by the Prem Kumar Dhumal government is 1999 would enable double cropping in the irrigated area, whereas the average annual rainfall the region gets is only 9.37 cms that is barely enough to support some crops.

A senior state government official, not authorized to speak to the media said, due to the mountain topography brining additional land under major or medium irrigation projects was difficult task.

Of the 55.67 lakh hectares of geographical area, Himachal only has a potential to bring about 50 thousand hectares under major irrigation schemes and an additional 2.85 lakh hectares under minor irrigation schemes, he said.

While the Changer scheme is nearing completion, sources in the irrigation and public health department revealed, the Rs 310 crore Shahnehar scheme was facing delays.

The Shahnehar irrigation project scheduled for completion by March 2012, though had already incurred a cost of over Rs 285 crore, but had been only been able to cover an area of 8400 hectares whereas it is scheduled to provide irrigation to 15,287 hectares, say sources.

The scheme started in 1997, which would provide irrigation to Indora and Fatehpur tehsils in Kangra district, has suffered delays and cost overruns because the government of Punjab, which has funding obligations to meet the project costs, has not been timely paying its dues, he said.

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