JAMMU, Feb 12: Former minister and president, Dogra Sadar Sabha (DSS), Gulchain Singh Charak has appealed to the UT Government to accord heritage status to the Ranbir Canal which is the lifeline of the citizens of Jammu.
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Addressing a press conference here today, Charak said this canal is more than 116 years old and was constructed in 1905 by Maharaja Pratap Singh. The project had been earlier conceived and taken up during the period of Maharaja Ranbir Singh. The canal is an engineering marvel that is continuously serving the people of Jammu in general and the farming community in particular. Besides this, the power plant on the canal established in 1909 with a capacity of about one megawatt generated electricity for Jammu city.
Charak also appealed to the UT Government to start the annual cleaning and de-silting of the Canal immediately enabling its completion well in time so that irrigation water becomes available to farmers, up to the Canal tail ends for meeting critical requirements of standing wheat and mustard crops at the grain filling stage in the coming months of March- April, as also for full realization of the yield potential for berseem and vegetable crops by the farmers.
DSS leader regretted that annual de-silting and cleaning of the Canal had become a mere ritual as most of the distributaries at the tail ends continued to remain choked with sediments and polythene bags. Farmers have been alleging that irrigation water doesn’t reach their fields at the Canal tail ends in RS Pura, Arnia and Bishnah areas. He lamented that the significance of this ice cold and mineral rich water from the Himalayan glaciers which irrigates and induces aroma and special taste to traditional Basmati rice varieties of RS Pura and the surroundings in more than 40,000 hectares area was not being fully realized.
Charak expressed concern that the Canal was badly neglected and was being allowed to deteriorate and get polluted. He appealed to the UT administration to issue stern instructions to concerned departments and organizations for proper care in maintenance and development of Ranbir Canal, its banks and the micro-environment all along its course by taking cue from various schemes underway like PMKSY, Swachh Bharat Mission, Namami Gangey and the Smart City Project for Jammu.
He emphasized that the beautification and upkeep of the Ranbir Canal, that runs parallel to the under completion Jammu-Akhnoor Highway Four Laning Project, must be taken up in a comprehensive and coordinated manner to establish it as a centre of attraction for local population as well as the visitors from outside.
He said the Govt must declare Ranbir Canal from canal head at Akhnoor to the Power Generation Plant at Jammu, as a protected State Heritage being more than 116 years old structure and a lifeline for Jammu; plugging/treating/suitably diverting away the sewerage and polluting drains flowing directly into the Canal from the catchments; retrieve and secure all encroached land and property along Jammu-Akhnoor, which is running parallel to the Ranbir Canal, ensure that Government lands/retrieved places are properly landscaped and public parks, green belts cum walkways, recreation sites and compensatory urban forest lots are established at such places in accordance with a transparent policy/ plan of action; install solar power generation plants on the lines of the Canal Top Solar Power Plants at Vadodra in Gujarat, and also illuminate the Canal banks with solar lights to attract tourists.
Prem Sagar Gupta, Brig MS Jamwal (Retd), Col K S Jamwal (Retd), Abdul Majid , CM Sharma, GD Singh Charak and others also accompanied.