PUNJAB will get an additional Rs 100 crore for anti-water logging measures in the state. This would be over and above Rs 550 crore already sanctioned by NABARD for this purpose. The Centre will also immediately release Rs 75 crore to help the state in starting its much talked about Adarsh School Scheme on schedule from the start of the next academic session. An assurance to this effect was given by the Union Finance Minister P Chidambram during the course of his meeting with the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in New Delhi Wednesday evening.
The Centre had also agreed to give the requisite ‘advice and recommendation’ to the World Bank to enable the state to utilise “technical assistance from the international body for fighting the twin menace of falling water table as well as water logging in the state,” Media Advisor to CM Harcharan Bains said.
Mr. Badal said that this would help expedite work on both the Adarsh School and the antiwater-logging schemes.
Mr Badal impressed upon the Union Government the need for immediate and effective measures for fighting the falling rate of growth in agricultural production in Punjab which stood at just 2% against the targeted growth of 4% per annum. The CM pointed out that “contrary to common belief, Punjab does not have adequate surface water and, instead, is heavily dependent on ground water extraction” This, he said, had resulted in the problem of declining water table in about 128 out of 141 blocks of the state. On the other hand, he added, a large part of agricultural areas in the south western district of Ferozepur and Mukatsar had been adversely affected by water logging. “As a result, not only is the farm production declining in this ‘cotton belt’ but poverty is revisiting a major chunk of the population there”, he added.
The enhanced NABARD funding will be used to complete the large number of measures like provision of new surface and sub surface drains, installation and rejuvenation of lift pumps.