…In a summary to the provincial chief executive, the department said that water theft by “state agencies greatly undermines its moral authority (to check individual farmers and other influential people involved in the crime)”.
“Water theft has become a serious issue over the past two decades and is seriously affecting canal operations and equitable distribution of water. Theft by influential people at the head-reaches results in water shortage and deprives the poor farmers at the tail of these channels. Against this backdrop, water theft by state agencies robs the department of any moral authority to go after small farmers.”
Citing specific cases, the summary says the army (Corps IV) has a firing range near tail of Abbasia Link Canal (Head Qasimwala in Bahawalpur region). The army has leased out land to private people, called army contractors.
The contractors have laid illegal pipes and they also lift water through pumps. The Rangers have established two unauthorised outlets and the army another three on the same canal…
Kamran Shafi today talks about it as well and says “the secretary of the irrigation department of the Punjab should be congratulated, not only for authoring as clear a summary as this one, he should also be appreciated for having the plain guts to call a spade a spade”. He tells us that it is not just water theft but the land it self is stolen:
…The summary goes on to cite specific cases and has named the formations/units involved, alleging that in Bahawalpur Zone alone, 356 cusecs of water is being stolen every day. Detailing instances of water theft in other divisions, the summary states that Okara and Sheikhupura are also affected with this theft going on there too.
It also gives details of an incident in which army soldiers first abused and then “took away” for a time a sub divisional officer, when a party of police and irrigation department officials came to close an unauthorised outlet in Bahawalpur. The summary points out that the stolen water irrigates encroached lands, and that because more land is encroached upon every year, more water is required resulting in a still higher incidence of water theft…
Curiously, instead of asking for charges be filed against these crooks, Mr Shafi gets weak knees and demands only that “the army formations/units/Rangers involved should immediately desist from such commercial activity.”
P.S. And you were afraid of the Indians stealing your water…;-)