During Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Chandigarh last month, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and the leader of the opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Sunil Jakhar, had made the same appeal during the lunch hosted by governor Shivraj Patil.
Both leaders had separately demanded a package for dealing with the waterlogging problem in the state's south-western belt, in which their home districts fall.
On Friday, Badal and Jakhar jointly submitted an integrated plan of R3327.57 crore to the Planning Commission of India. Badal told Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia that the problem cannot be solved without central government assistance.
"The problem of waterlogging should be declared as a national project to tackle it through central funding under the national special area programme," Badal said. Cautioning that in case measures were not initiated immediately to arrest the problem, Badal said fertile agricultural land might become a wasteland in the near future. Jakhar said the problem had grave social and economic implications and was affecting the livelihoods of farmers in the Malwa belt.
Ahluwalia asked planning commission member Mihir Shah to work out the modalities for seeking financial assistance from the World Bank for funding the anti-waterlogging works under this project. National Rainfed Authority CEO Dr JS Samra also suggested measures to overcome the problem.