The Punjab Congress on Saturday demanded inquiry into "man-made floods" in Muktsar, Faridkot and Fazilka areas, saying the genesis of the same was rooted in the `400 crore anti-water-logging scam in the tenure of the Parkash Singh Badal government from 1997 to 2002.
The area was then part of the Faridkot parliamentary constituency and Shiromani Akali Dal candidate Sukhbir Singh Badal had lost the 1999 election there. "People had understood the wrongdoings in the implementation of this grand project," state Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa said here on Saturday, demanding an inquiry by either the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana high court.
Apart from other factors, said Punjab Congress president, what had now led to water accumulation in the area was the misuse of connections given under the scheme to promote horticulture, which in effect was the kinnow cultivation in the area. This included, apart from the Badal clan, big landlords in the area who had been funding and supporting the state's ruling family, said Bajwa. The special water connections from the canals were misused for cultivating paddy; the arid region was otherwise unsuitable for the crop and continued to be known as the cotton belt, he added.
Bajwa said a drain had been dug under the project to carry water from the affected villages to Sutlej river near Fazilka but the channel's alignment had been changed under pressure from big landlords. Moreover, there were other design faults, as the drain was at a lower elevation than the river, and so water had started flowing back into the drain and over years, the drain had choked. More works undertaken as part of this project were also responsible for the floods, Bajwa added.