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Acute water shortage in Nara canal system has badly hit wheat, vegetable, sugarcane and other crops as several branches and distributaries are closed for more than 10 days.

WATER shortage is becoming more and more acute in Thane and Ghodbunder road area. They are going without water supply for the last three days and this has resulted in public protests against the TMC. The TMC has, however, put the blame on the state irrigation department and sought a high-level discussion to end the crises. The problem of water scarcity has engulfed Vartak Nagar, Bhim Nagar, Lokmanya Nagar, Indira Nagar, Ram Nagar and Manpada, as well as other high-rise areas on Ghodbunder Road since the last two weeks. These areas have been going without proper water supply for more than three days a week since the past two weeks. These areas require 34 Million Litres per Day (MLD) of water but the situation has resulted in the water supply going down by more than 10-12 MLD everyday. Residents of several areas do not even get drinking water due to the recent situation. The anger of the residents is growing day by day.

With many a Margao household receiving drinking water only in trickles, the BJP activists of the city unit on Wednesday gheraoed PWD officials and demanded explanation for the water scarcity. Assistant Engineer, Vijay Kudchadkar attributed the water scarcity in some parts of the city to the ongoing pump replacement work at the Selaulim Dam. He, however, assured the delegation that water supply to the City would stabilise within two days as the work of pump replacement is almost completed. Led by BJP leader Sharmad Raiturcar, the BJP activists, including some women, demanded to know why work on the replacement was carried out without issuing any notice to the water consumers. He pointed out that a notice was inserted in the newspapers around February 15 and sought to know whether work was on for the last fortnight. "Is there any accountability for the PWD officials. How come you suddenly carried out a shut down', he questioned. Raiturcar claimed that many a household in Comba, Khareband and Aquem in the Chief Minister's constituency had to go without water for the last two days. He also sought to know whether household connections would be issued to households with PWD officials disconnecting the public water taps. Accusing the present Government for being insensitive to the common man, Raiturcar threatened to intensify the agitation if the situation fails to improve immediately. Assistant Engineer, Kudchadkar told the BJP activists that two of the damaged pumps are being replaced and attributed the delay to the company's delay in supplying the pumps.

For Rs 1.9 crore, three deep tubewells and a distribution network were set up in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district. Six years on, these wells supply arsenic-laced water to 14000 villagers.

MELBURNIANS can expect water restrictions to remain for several years until massive infrastructure projects are completed, including the desalination plant due to begin operating in 2011. The city's water supply is in better shape than at this time last year but a drier autumn looms. Water Minister Tim Holding said yesterday some restrictions would continue until major projects were completed. Water Services Association of Australia executive director Ross Young said Melbourne ended February with its catchments 35.5% full, up from 34.2% at this time last year. He attributed the increase to a fall in water consumption, down 9% on the previous year, and more summer rainfall, 10% above average. However, Mr Young said dry soil throughout the state meant higher rainfall was not delivering the boost to reservoirs that might be expected. The streams that fill Victoria's reservoirs were flowing at only 58% of the long-term average flow. Water storage levels in Ballarat were at just 9.5%. Meanwhile, the Murray-Darling Basin Commission yesterday warned that flooding rains in Queensland and above-average summer rainfall in the upper Murray River would bring little or no relief for Victorian irrigators. Total inflows into the Murray system are still only a quarter of the long-term average. Victorian irrigators will receive only 42% of their entitlements this financial year, with worse likely for next year. With CHRIS HAMMER

There will be considerable shortage of irrigation water supplies in Sindh due to lesser flows in the rivers of Pakistan and it has been decided to resort to intensive rotation flows from March 15. Sindh is getting only 20,400 cusecs in canals against accord share of 37,500 cusecs on 28.2.2008. Thus the shortage has reached to the extent of 45 percent, a spokesman of Irrigation and Power Department said on Thursday. The farmers, domestic consumers and all others using water from irrigation network in Sindh informed that with 45 percent shortage the situation is crucial and the department is taking following measures: (a) Drinking water for Karachi will be maintained. (b) Some flows for drinking purpose will be allowed in Fuleli and Pinyari Canals. (c) Supplies to Gudu Barrage Canals will be reduced to 1,250 cusecs being 50 percent shortage. (d) Supplies to Sukkur Barrage canals will be reduced to 15,000 cusecs being 50 percent shortage. (e) Supplies to Kotri Barrage canals will be enhanced to 3,000 cusecs to cater for drinking water requirements, which is 42 percent shortage. The spokesman said that in view of the situation, intensive rotation of canal flows will have to be enforced. The Chief Engineers/Managing Director SIDA have been directed to announce canal flows rotation programme according to the availability at each barrage/canal. This intensive rotation programme will be enforced from March 15 and department will made all efforts to arrange for judicious sharing of water and deliver due share to all the tails of the system and control water theft. Farmers and all others using Irrigation water have been advised to use available water carefully.-PR Copyright Business Recorder, 2008

Rawalpindi is to get an additional 100 million gallons of water per day from Tarbela dam by 2015 when the city is projected to become the fourth largest urban area of the country with a population of nearly 2.3 million. A

Federal government will provide 200 bulldozers for Balochistan and 100 for NWFP, which would be hired out to the farmers at no profit no loss basis to facilitate them in reclaiming the cultivable wasteland. According to the sources in Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (Minfal), around 219,375 hectares of cultivable wasteland (NWFP 73,125 and Balochistan 146,250 hectares) would be reclaimed through the use of 300 bulldozers. This will enhance agricultural production in the NWFP and Balochistan provinces, sources said. According to an update Minfal study, about 8.12 million hectares of land falls in the category of cultivable wasteland out of which 1.22 and 4.0 million hectares are in NWFP and Balochistan respectively. Provincial Agriculture Engineering Departments need additional machinery and 900 bulldozers to reclaim the cultivable wasteland. Minfal sources mentioned that agricultural growth is key to curtailing poverty since poor heavily rely on agricultural goods and services for their livelihood. In line with the objectives of PRSP, Minfal has approved a number of projects for crop maximisation to reduce poverty and food insecurity in Pakistan in PSDP 2006-07. A number of projects assisted by ADB, FAO and UN/WFP for crop maximisation, increasing food security and promoting poverty alleviation are also under implementation. Sources said that government has given top priority to the development of water resources to maximise crop production. This has been done through progressively increasing surface water supplies and conserving water using the latest technologies and protecting land and infrastructure from water logging, salinity, floods and soil erosion. The main objectives are overcoming the scarcity of water through augmentation and conservation means ie by construction of medium and large dams and by efficient utilisation of irrigation water and restoring the productivity of agricultural land through control of water logging, salinity and floods, sources added. They said that an integrated programme approach for water management has been adopted. On-farm Water Management (OFWM) projects have been implemented on community participation basis in the provinces, AJ&K and Federal Agencies. Water conservation is being ensured under the President's programme for the improvement and lining of watercourses. This programme envisaged lining improvement of 87,000 watercourses at a cost of Rs 66 billion within 3-4 years. This initiative will significantly improve water supply at the farm-gate through reduction in the seepage losses. During the year 2006-07, 18,390 watercourses have been lined and renovated against the target of 18,000 watercourses. Minfal sources stated that the government has fulfilled most of the commitments related to different WTO-specific agreements. Pakistan has already started improving quality and standards of agricultural export commodity markets. Imposition of strict Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) measures and adoption of other significant regulatory steps through the Department of Plant Protection helped increase agricultural exports to the developed countries. Different development projects for the strengthening of laboratories for quality control have been initiated. For grading of agriculture and livestock commodities, grade standards of about 50 commodities, under Grading and Marketing Act, were developed. According to the Minfal study agriculture sector in Pakistan is facing many serious challenges and constraints for future growth. These challenges are embedded in (i) the rising demand for agricultural products with the growth of population and incomes; (ii) the expanding role of free and competitive markets in agriculture trade at the national and international levels. Increased farm productivity, achieved by sustainable use of natural resources and other inputs, and diversification of production from the low value to high value products in response to market demand have to be the key ingredients of future agriculture strategy to make agriculture both productive and profitable; (iii) wide yield gaps in major and minor crops, inefficient use of water at farms, poor quality and availability of agricultural inputs, frequent insect and pest attacks and high incidence of crop and livestock diseases require effective resolution; and (iv) strengthening of agriculture research system is needed to focus more on emerging areas such as biotechnology, genetic engineering, hybrid seeds etc. Improving agricultural knowledge system for effective crop forecasting, and undertaking market reforms in preparation of expanding trade regimes of WTO and Safta are other areas in which Minfal is currently focusing on. Copyright Business Recorder, 2008

MAJOR PROJECTS: Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi inaugurating the Hogenakkal Water Supply Scheme and Fluorosis Mitigation Programme in Dharmapuri on Tuesday. Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has assured that the government will ensure establishment of industries in places other than Chennai and its suburbs. After laying the foundation stone for the Rs. 1,330-crore Hogenakkal Water Supply Scheme and Fluorosis Mitigation Programme and a slew of other development projects here on Tuesday, the Chief Minister said the government had signed a memorandum of understanding with over 12 companies for setting up industrial units that would generate 20 lakh new jobs in Tamil Nadu in two years' time. Stating that a few parties were criticising the welfare schemes, Mr. Karunanidhi said the DMK government would continue to implement schemes for the development of the poor, middle class and the oppressed. The Centre had appreciated the schemes being implemented by the State. Appreciating Local Administration Minister M.K. Stalin and officials for successfully negotiating with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation for getting funds for the Hogenakkal scheme, he said the government had fulfilled a long-pending dream of the people of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri. The Chief Minister promised that he would continue to carry out development schemes. Referring to the Pattali Makkal Katchi president G.K. Mani's observation that his party would support good schemes, Mr. Karunanidhi said he would not give opportunity for anyone to criticise his government since it was doing only good service to the people. Mr. Stalin promised rewards for officials if the scheme was completed before the deadline. New posts New posts would be created for expediting the implementation of the scheme, which would ensure supply of safe drinking water to about 30 lakh people in 6,755 habitations in three municipalities, 17 town panchayats and 19 panchayat unions in the fluoride-affected Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts. Ministers Durai Murugan, Veerapandi S. Arumugam, Arcot N. Veeraswami, K. Ponmudy, K.N. Nehru and I. Periyasamy, Chief Secretary L.K. Tripathy, Municipal Administration and Water Supply Secretary K. Deenabandu, Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board Managing Director Swaran Singh, Collectors P. Amudha (Dharmapuri) and Santhosh Babu (Krishnagiri) spoke.

A state government survey says over 76 pc people had to grease the palms of municipal bodies to get basic amenities CHANDIGARH, February 21: It's not a finding the Punjab Government would like to flaunt. A survey sponsored by it has found out that 76.5 per cent of people pay bribes to officials in the various municipal bodies of the state to get their work done. The finding was an outcome of a study conducted by the Institute for Development and Communication (IDC) for the Department of Planning, Punjab Government. The study discovered that 76.5 per cent of the respondents had paid bribe on one occasion and most of them (82.3 per cent) had paid it to one person only. Interestingly, 94.1 per cent of the repondents admitted that the persons concerned had asked for money for redressal of their problems regarding basic amenities such as water, sewerage, streetlights and roads. Besides paying bribes, 37.1 per cent of the people also felt the need to approach an influential person to get their complaints redressed. Interestingly, almost half of the respondents were not in favour of paying bribes for any work at the MC level but were forced to do so. The only exception were people at Jalandhar and Nakodar where 80 per cent and 100 per cent of the respondents, respectively, did not mind greasing palms to get their work done at the municipal corporation. However, in many cases, bribe did not prove to be the ideal solution. Nearly 44.1 per cent of the respondents complained about harassment even after paying the bribe. Only 23.5 per cent felt that their work was done immediately after they paid the bribe, said the study. A large number (37.4 per cent) of respondents felt that middle-level officials were most corrupt, and only 8.1 per cent pointed a finger at the councillors. A majority of the complaints (45.2 per cent) were related to poor water supply followed by faulty streetlights, potholed roads (11.3 per cent) and choked sewerage (8.1 per cent). In Hoshiarpur, poor or polluted water supply accounted for half the complaints, while building construction made up for one-fourth of the grouses. In Moga and Amritsar, blockage of sewerage and poor water supply were the major grouses. In a damning indictment of the municipal bodies, the survey showed that 74.9 per cent of the people were dissatisfied with their grievance redressal system. The Jalandhar municipal body fared most poorly with only 2 per cent of the respondents saying that the civic body was prompt in dealing with grievances. The reasons for corruption, according to the study, ranged from poor work culture, faulty management, lack of proper planning, absence of transparency, to ad hoc allocation of resources. The people surveyed suggested transparency and involvement of the locals in grassroots initiatives would improve the delivery system. Principal Secretary, Local Bodies, DS Bains, however, blamed the old urban infrastructure for the corrupt system. "Urban infrastructure is nearing a collapse in the state for want of investment in the last decade and half. Some unscrupulous elements take advantage of people who want better services. The answer lies in massive investment to upgrade the urban services which we are doing this year.' Show 'em the money Of the 76.5 pc people who bribed Punjab civic body officials to get their work done:

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