ISLAMABAD - Replacement of 121 years old Khanki Headworks with a new barrage is planned to increase agricultural production by 10 per cent in eight districts of central Punjab, and also to ensure sustainable irrigation supplies to the area.
A new Khanki Barrage is being constructed adjacent to the old Khanki Headworks located at River Chenab in Tehsil Wazirabad of Gujranwala district. Replacement is initiated due to ageing effect, flood passage constraints, lack of effective control on river regulation etc. Objective of construction of new barrage is to replace existing 121 years old headworks (1892) with new barrage, enhancing flood passage capacity of eight lakh cusecs to 11 lakh cusecs. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is funding the new barrage project with $270 million loan against PC-1 cost Rs23,442 million while remaining amount would be given by the Punjab government. So far agreed ADB funding is around 87% while 13 % of total cost of the project would be ensured by the government of Punjab. Primary beneficiaries of the project will be 568000 farming families in the Lower Chenab Canal (LCC) command area who will be ensured of reliable irrigation supplies. Average farm size in the canal command is 6.5 acres. A total of almost two million people will benefit from the construction of New Khanki Barrage project either directly or indirectly. Concrete work at the project site will start soon but after the completion of dewatering and excavation at the work site. And, a joint venture (JV) of various consultancy firms will soon provide drawing to start concrete work as they are engaged to supervise the construction work of the project.
These details were shared by the officials of Irrigation Department of Punjab (PMO Punjab Barrages), JV of consultants and representatives of contractor with a group of journalists that are on ADB Press Tour at the project site. The ADB has approved a soft loan of 270 million for constructing this project. The new Khanki Barrage on River Chenab in central Punjab will replace the existing headwork built in 1892. The condition of this vital headwork has deteriorated over the years, threatening the water supply to a large area of irrigated plains in Punjab, which is considered to be the country’s bread basket. The existing Khani Headwork is running at high risk and can cause loss of several crop seasons, if failed. Deteriorated irrigation infrastructure causes unreliable irrigation services and high risks of its failure. Farmers adapted groundwater pumping for irrigation, which is causing saline-water intrusioin and land degradation. The ADB’s natural resources sector report 2006 for Pakistan evaluated the water resources and irrigation rehabilitation as a core part of its lending portfolio. The sector road map emphasizes that both the physical and non-physical improvements are keys to the sustained irrigated agriculture and reduction of rural poverty in Punjab. Giving presentation to journalists, chief engineer of the project Syed Mahmood Ul Hassan said that the New Khanki Barrage will reliably divert 11653 cusecs of irrigation supplies to the downstream LCC irrigating 1.2 million hectors. On the basis of feasibility and detailed design studies, New Khanki barrage is proposed 900ft downstream of existing headquarters for which a project costing Rs23.442 billion was prepared and got approved from ECNEC. He claimed that it plays a pivotal role in the irrigated agriculture of Punjab province which is the backbone of national economy. According to the project official, the impact of the project will be the improved agricultural production and farm income in LCC command areas. The impacts will be measured by 10 per cent increase in the agriculture production and 10 per cent increase in farm income of 25000 families. The project will also ensure reliable water supply and stability of crop yield, further improvement of crop production are expected from the LCC on-going reforms and other interventions.
The project is designed using the state-of-the-art techniques and is being implemented through international contract following ADB guidelines. Civil works have already commenced in 2013and the completion period is five years. Implementation of the project will ensure sustainable irrigation supplies to the command area for the next 100 years and it will help in alleviating poverty and brining prosperity to the districts Gujranwala, Hafizabad, Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib, Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh and Jhang. Irrigation Department Punjab (IDP), being custodian of the major hydraulic structures, has taken up rehabilitation and modernization of barrages located in the province in phased programs.
The construction of new barrage will save the canal network of 2925 channels (4680 kilometers), which will irrigate more than 3.301 million acres of the above eight districts. To replace the existing 120 years old Headworks with new barrage will enhance flood passage capacity from 800000 to 1100000 cusecs.