Chandigarh– The Punjab Cabinet on Monday approved granting ‘Right of Way’ to government departments concerned or farmers to enable them to lay underground irrigation pipelines through other land holders’ areas.

The amendment to the existing law will allow the laying of underground irrigation pipelines at a depth of 3 feet beneath the surface of land as per demarcated line, a state government spokesperson said on Monday.

The Cabinet “approved the incorporation of a new Section 14-A in Chapter III as an amendment in Punjab Land Improvement Schemes Act 1963 (Act no 23 of 1963)”, the spokesperson said.

“The amendment would give the ‘Right of Way’ to the Soil and Water Conservation Department and the farmers against payment, as per prevailing market rates, of compensation on account of crop damage or damage to any structure.”

The amendment was necessitated by the fact that land holders or entities or agencies holding land often did not allow the underground pipeline to pass through their land, thus depriving the farmer, with land located on the other side, of much-needed irrigation facilities, it was pointed out in the proposal sent to the cabinet in which approval was sought.

“Farmers with a single source of irrigation and fragmented agricultural land holdings were the worst affected due to the existing lacunae in the law. Absence of legal rights on this count was also holding up several government-funded projects,” it said.

To ensure implementation of the scheme, a district level committee under the chairmanship of Deputy Commissioner and comprising representatives from Revenue, Agriculture, Forest, Public Works and Soil Conservation Departments would be formed.

The proposed committee would be entrusted with the task of determining the amount of compensation to be paid to the land holder, the spokesperson said.

Laying of underground pipelines for irrigation is the most effective way for efficient use of water resources in agrarian Punjab. (IANS)