Punjab CM gives nod to state’s concurrence for central scheme to tackle ground water crisis
• approves setting up of ground water authority, directs coordinated efforts by various departments to resolve problem
Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday initiated the process of implementation of the central government’s Incentivisation Scheme for Bridging Irrigation Gap (ISBIG), while giving in-principle approval to the establishment of a Ground Water Authority to tackle the state’s ground water crisis.
Chairing a high-level meeting to review the ground water situation and discuss the implementation of the central scheme, the Chief Minister gave his concurrence for the state’s share of 40%, amounting to Rs. 3448.00 Cr. against the total project cost of Rs. 8658.00 Cr. for Punjab. He directed the concerned officials to immediately send the state’s concurrence to the Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India.
The Chief Minister also approved the formation of a committee of four secretaries, headed by Financial Commissioner Rural Development, MP Singh, to make a detailed project for ISBIG. The other members of the committee are ……..
The Chief Minister also ordered the formulation of a comprehensive policy through coordinated efforts of various departments handling the subject, an official spokesperson disclosed after the meeting.
Giving details of the central scheme, the spokesperson said it envisages the funding of 60:40 (Centre:State) at aggregate level for non-special states. However, the central assistance can go upto to 70% if the project meets the performance criteria of timely completion, increased water use efficiency to the optimum level, and successful project implementation management.
The scheme, aimed at bridging the gap between Irrigation Potential Created (IPC) and Irrigation Potential Utilized (IPU) to India’s completed water resources projects, will provide better irrigation facilities to 1249.257 lakh ha. area of 12 canal commands falling in 21 districts of Punjab. It will benefit approximately 3.10 lakh farming families of the State by providing assured supply of water to every farm field by bringing improvements in water-use efficiency. In addition, it will help reduce burden on the State Government, as use of electricity for tubewells will be minimized, besides increasing agriculture production in the state.
The Chief Minister expressed serious concern over the ground water situation in Punjab, which has the highest water exploitation rate and the maximum percentage of dark zones in the country. With almost the entire wetland area in the state having been destroyed in the past two decades, Punjab has one of the highest rates of decline in the water level. The state’s water table is declining at an average rate of 1.6 ft/annum, as per available data, which further shows that the numbers of tubewells in the state have increased from 2 lac in 1970-71 to 14.5 lac in 2015-16.
The meeting discussed measures to monitor and control ground water extraction by introducing a regulatory framework, besides mass awareness campaigns to educate the people on optimal use of ground water.
Increase in area under paddy, failure to promote crop diversification, lack of knowledge and application of water-saving techniques are some of the factors leading to the decline in the water table. Decrease in annual rainfall by 30-40% in last three decades has reduced surface water availability and affected the natural recharge to ground water resources, thereby resulting in more stress on ground water, whose consumption is also increasing on the domestic and industrial fronts.
The meeting was attended, among others, by PPCC President Sunil Jakhar, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary Development MP Singh, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, Principal Secretary Irrigation VK Singh, Special Principal Secretary to CM Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, Secretary Irrigation AS Miglani, Chief Engineer Water Resources KS Takshi and Chief Engineer Canals Vinod Chaudary.