CM gives nod to Central scheme to solve groundwater crisis
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 here, the chief minister gave his concurrence for the state’s share of 40 per cent, amounting to Rs 3,448 crore against the total project cost of Rs 8,658 crore for Punjab. He directed the concerned officials to immediately send the state’s concurrence to the Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India, an official release said here.The chief minister also approved the formation of a committee of four secretaries, headed by Additional Chief Secretary Development M P Singh, to make a detailed project for ISBIG. He also ordered the formulation of a comprehensive policy through coordinated efforts of various departments handling the subject. Giving details of the Central scheme, an official spokesperson said it envisages the funding of 60:40 (Centre:State) at aggregate level.However, the Central assistance can go up to 70 per cent if the project meets the performance criteria of timely completion, increased water use efficiency to the optimum level, and successful project implementation management, he said. 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 1,249.257 lakh hectares 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, he said. In addition, it will help reduce burden on the state government, as use of electricity for tubewells will be minimised, besides increasing agriculture production in the state, he said. The chief minister expressed 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, the release said.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, he said.
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