Chandigarh: The Union government is likely to provide an additional Rs 100 crore for antiwater logging measures in Punjab. This would be over and above the Rs 550 crore grant already sanctioned by NABARD for the purpose.
Revealing this here on Wednesday, a press release said Union finance minister P Chidambaram also assured Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal of an immediate release of Rs 75 crore to help the state start its Adarsh School Scheme on schedule from the next academic session. Badal met Chidambaram in New Delhi on Wednesday evening.
The release also quoted Chidambaram as saying that the Centre had agreed to give requisite “advice and recommendations” to the World Bank to enable the state to utilise “technical assistance from the international body to fight the twin menace of falling water table as well as water logging in the state.”
The CM impressed upon the Union government to adopt 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. It was 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, large parts of agricultural areas in the south western district of Ferozepur and Muktsar had been adversely affected by water logging. “As a result, not only is farm production declining in this ‘cotton belt,’ but poverty is revisiting a major chunk of population there,” he added.
Enhanced NABARD funding would be used to complete a large number of measures like provision of new surface and sub-surface drains, installation and rejuvenation of lift pumps, construction of minor and small distributaries to divert seepage of water to deficit areas, et al.