Water is a critical resource for sustainable economic development of Pakistan and in this perspective irrigated agriculture is of great importance in the socio-economic life of the country. It provides linkages and ripple effects though which growth in other sectors is stimulated. Pakistan’s agriculture primarily depends upon irrigation and irrigated lands supply more than 90% of the total agricultural production, account for about 25% of GDP, and employ around 50% of the labour force. They supply most of the country’s needed food-grain and also are the source of raw materials for major domestic industries and exports. Timely availability of water greatly influences crop production and yields. In order to meet the agricultural needs therefore adequate and timely availability of water is an essential pre-requisite.

The irrigation water is delivered to the field through a net work of barrages, main canals, branch canals, distributaries, minors, sub minors and outlets. The irrigation System of Punjab consists of about 23,184 miles length of canals, which command Culture able Commanded Area (CCA) of about 21 million acres. The 24 canal systems, which have a total capacity of 1.10 lac cusecs, draw their allocated discharges from 14 barrages of the Punjab. The barrages also control diversion of supplies to the inter-river link canals which transfer the water of the western rivers to the eastern rivers to cater for irrigation systems off taking from these rivers. The water from the rivers is diverted to Main Canals / Link Canals from Barrages and head Regulators and distributed to the farmer’s fields through 58,000 outlets after flowing through the lengthy irrigation net-work.

Presently daily data about discharges / gauges of rivers, main canals, Branch canals, Distys and minors is prepared by the field staff in the analog form and retained in the divisional offices except that gauges / discharges of Main / Branch canals are transmitted to I&P Secretariat. There is no mechanism for rapid monitoring of water distribution in a canal system i.e. between the headworks and tail off takes / outlets. Taking advantage of the developments in the field of information technology, Irrigation & Power Department has initiated digitization of the daily gauges and discharge data of all the rivers, main canals, branch canals, feeders, distributaries, minors and sub minors for ensuring proper management of the Irrigation System and equitable distribution of canal water. A specially designed system is being developed for each channel whereby data about authorized discharge, indented supply, gauge reading, actual releases of every channel will be entered in it on daily basis by each Canal Division. All other related data such as L- Section, number of reaches of each channel, and location, discharges and CCA of off – takes / out-lets of each channel, would be linked up with the System in the form of data base. Under this arrangement decision makers / monitoring units, without waiting for the information from field, will have access to essential data through computers, which would enable them to make appropriate decision without delay. This digitized data would be used as a tool for achieving proper management of the canal system, equitable distribution of water to shareholders / Farmers Organizations.

For implementation of the Monitoring and Implementation Program envisaged for efficient and Optimal Canal Operations oriented towards equity and transparency, Programme Monitoring and Implementation Unit for Canal Operations and Discharge Data in Irrigation and Power Department, headed by a Chief Monitoring (Team Leader) has been established. The experts and other professionals for this Cell have been appointed on contract basis. The Unit has been strengthened with 12 Mobile Teams (two for each Irrigation Zone) and will be equipped with double cabin pickup and discharge observation devices and 58 Gauge Readers (one for each Operation Division) equipped with motorcycle. One and half months training for Assistant Director Mobiles and Monitoring Assistants will be started on April 3, 2006. The Mobile Teams will frequently move in the zone to observe the actual discharge of channels / outlets and Gauge Readers will regularly observe the gauges especially of the tail of channels of the Divisions. This will facilitate the Monitoring Unit to ascertain the correctness of data loaded by the Canal Divisions and exercising proper check for feeding of Tails and ensuring equitable distribution of water in the channels / out-lets according to the authorized shares and approved plans.

PMIU will also carry out the following:

  1. Independent periodic inspections of canals/drains, barrages, large hydraulic structures, flood control facilities, small dams and other facilities in order to assess the special needs of M&R of these structures other than routine M&R. This cell will function like Dam Monitoring Organization of WAPDA, who could retain services of individual experts from the market or through reputed consulting firms for joining periodic inspections and contributing with advice and recommendations. Special report will be expected output of the periodic inspections by this cell. These special reports should be of immense help in preparing Annual M&R Plans particularly for barrages, large hydraulic structures and main canals etc.
  2. Independent inspections of the randomly selected schemes of M&R works and other development works prepared by the divisions (say 2 in each division every year). This will not only ensure quality of preparation of schemes but should facilitate changing the prevailing casual attitude of the field formation towards preparation of schemes.

PMIU will also be responsible for both: (a) monitoring and evaluating the impact of the overall program; for monitoring various activities under the DPL and (b) implementation of certain key components of the reform program itself. The IPD is preparing an Irrigation Management Information System (IMIS), which will be expanded to prepare a Decision Support Model to provide support to the senior management. The Decision Support Model will have inbuilt tools for modeling and analysis; graphic representation of data and would be capable of monitoring key indicators of organizational performance and would act as the base for all future planning and resource allocation. The PMIU will consolidate and analyze all monitoring data as outlined in Policy Matrix of DPL and issue quarterly and annual reports. The Agriculture Department will collect and supply the monitoring data relating to Pillar 4 to the PMIU, who would include the data in its Quarterly / Annual Reports.

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