Chandigarh, 18 August(Wishav Warta): 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 Additional Chief Secretary Development MP Singh, to make a detailed project for ISBIG. The others members of the committee Principal Secretary Irrigation, Principal Secretary Science & Technology, Principal Secretary Rural Development & Panchayats and Principal Secretary Finance.
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.