Chandigarh August 22:In a significant decision, the Union Water Resources Minister Mr.Saif- Ud-Din Soz today agreed in principle to pose projects of Rajasthan Canal and Sirhind Feeder worth Rs.261 crores to the World Bank for its up gradation and modernization to check the huge loss of water due to seepage which had resulted in large scale water logging in the Malwa Belt.
A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting between the Punjab Chief Minister Mr.Parkash Singh Badal and Union Water Resources Minister Mr Soz here in his office at Shram Shakti Bhawan.
Mr.Badal said that since the state was not in a position to undertake up gradation of these projects due to paucity of funds it had already referred a comprehensive proposal to the Central Water Commission (CWC) which had now decided to take up with the World Bank for its timely execution.
Mr.Badal also demanded that Centre should treat Shahpur Kandi Dam as a "National Project"and bear 90% of its project cost as the Government of India had only agreed to give 20.9% of the total cost for irrigation component. Mr.Soz assured he Chief Minister to get this proposal thoroughly examined by the Ministry of Water Resources so that it could be executed within a stipulated time frame.
Responding to another demand raised by Mr. Badal , the Union Water Resources Minister agreed that the Center would bear the entire expenditure of Rs.30 crore to undertake the repair of 150 Kms stretch of damaged ‘bandhs’ on river Beas Sutlej and Ravi due to recent flood in the State.
Showing concern over the fast depletion of water table, Mr.Badal also urged Mr. Soz to increase the allocation of funds under Accelerated Irrigation Building Programme (AIBP) as Punjab was agrarian state depending substantially on canal irrigation. He stated that the state had not received any funds for the remodeling of Sirhind Feeder andBathinda Branch at a cost ofRs. 407.03 crore and Rs238.18 crore respectively.
Mr Soz informed the Chief Minister that the first installment of Rs 34.33 crore would be soon released after the revision of new guidelines under AIBP. Like wise projects worth Rs.552.crore relating to rehabilitation of major canals under AIBP would be soon appraised and approve by the CWC. He assured of full support and cooperation to the Chief Minister for expeditiously execution of the various irrigation projects in the state. He appreciated the concern of Mr.Badal about the scarcity of ground water and urged him to go for harvesting of rain water and recharge of ground water to maintain the level of water table.
Mr.Badal was accompanied by his Principal Secretary DS Guru,Principal Secretary Irrigation and Power Mr.Suresh Kumar, Special Principal Secretary KJS Cheema and Principal Resident Commissioner Punajb Bhawan New Delhi Mrs.Anjuly Chib Duggal .