By Ijaz Kakakhel
LAHORE: The replacement of 120 years old Khanki Headworks located at river Chenab in Tehsil Wazirabad of Gujranwala district will increase agriculture production by 10 percent in eight districts.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has financed $270 million for New Khanki Barrage Construction Project. Primary beneficiaries of the project will be 568,000 farming families in the Lower Chenab Canal (LCC) command area who will be ensured of reliable irrigation supplies. Average farm size in the canal command is 6.5 acres. A total of almost two million people will benefit from the construction of New Khanki Barrage Project either directly or indirectly.
This was shared by ADB spokesman with a group of journalists who are in ADB Press Tour on project sight. The ADB has approved a soft loan of $270 million for constructing this project.
The new Khanki Barrage on River Chenab in central Punjab will replace the existing headwork built in 1892. The condition of this vital headwork has deteriorated over the years, threatening the water supply to a large area of irrigated plains in Punjab, which is considered to be the country’s breadbasket. The existing Khanki Headwork is running at high risk and can cause loss of several crop seasons, if failed.
Deteriorated irrigation infrastructure causes unreliable irrigation services and high risks of its failure. Farmers adapted groundwater pumping for irrigation, which is causing saline-water and land degradation. The ADB’s natural resources sector report 2006 for Pakistan evaluated the water resources and irrigation rehabilitation as a core part of its lending portfolio. The sector road map emphasises that both the physical and non-physical improvements are keys to the sustained irrigated agriculture and reduction of rural poverty in Punjab.
Giving presentation to journalists, chief engineer of the project Syed Mahmood Ul Hassan said the New Khanki Barrage will reliably divert 11,653 cusecs of irrigation supplies to the downstream LCC irrigating 1.2 million hectors.
On the basis of feasibility and detailed design studies, New Khanki barrage is proposed 900 ft downstream of existing headquarters for which a project costing Rs 23.442 billion was prepared and got approved from ECNEC. He claimed that it plays a pivotal role in the irrigated agriculture of Punjab Province, which is the backbone of national economy.
The project is designed using the state-of-the-art techniques and is being implemented through international contract following ADB guidelines. Civil works are already commenced in 2013 and the completion period is five years.
Implementation of the project will ensure sustainable irrigation supplies to the command area for the next 100 years and it will help in alleviating poverty and brining prosperity to the districts Gujranwala, Hafizabad Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib, Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh and Jhang. Irrigation Department Punjab (IDP) being custodian of the major hydraulic structures, has taken up rehabilitation and modernisation of barrages located in the province in phased programmes.
The construction of new barrage will save the canal network of 2,925 channels (4,680 kilo meters), which will irrigate more than 3.301 million acres of the above eight districts. To replace the existing 120 years old Headworks with new barrage enhancing flood passage capacity from 800,000 to 1100,000 cusec.
According to the project official, the impact of the project will be the improved agricultural production and farm income in LCC command areas. The impacts will be measured by 10 percent increase in the agriculture production and 10 percent increase in farm income of 25,000 families. The project will also ensure reliable water supply and stability of crop yield, further improvement of crop production are expected from the LCC on-going reforms and other interventions.
Courtesy Daily Times