Chandigarh: The offence of "theft of canal water" can now attract both fine and 6 months imprisonment after an amendment in the law relating to canals and drainage.

The Canal and Drainage Act, 1873, has been amended whereby those who "puncture" a canal to irrigate their fields will face Rs 5,000 fine, imprisonment or both, Punjab Irrigation Minister, Janmeja Singh Sekhon, said on Tuesday.

The state government has taken a serious view of the increasing incidence of canal water being illegally diverted by farmers. Before this amendment, there was a provision of Rs 1,000 fine or 1 month imprisonment or both.

The government was duty bound to ensure the availability of water for irrigation but at the same time theft of canal water would not be tolerated at any cost, he said.

Sekhon further informed that the Punjab government has amended section 70 of the Act for this.

For the second offence of canal water theft, water supply would be ceased for full term during the crop season.

In case any person still continues to use water in an unauthorised manner, they would be excluded from the command area of the canal for a period of two years.

Sekhon added that when supply of water of the offender is stopped, his share of canal water would be distributed judiciously amongst other stakeholders falling in the relevant command area of the canal.

Speaking on reports of breach in minor canals, Sekhon said it has been noticed that in case of heavy rains, farmers close the water outlets emerging from them to irrigate their fields.

The subsequent obstruction causes an increase in water level in the minors and creates pressure on its embankment, which results in breach.

(Agencies)

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