The state government, on Thursday, asked the Centre to release a package on the pattern of the Ganga river rejuvenation plan, for cleaning Punjab's rivers and also sought one-time allocation for relining and redesigning the canal system which proved to be a catalyst in the success of the Green Revolution in the country.
State irrigation minister Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, who was speaking during a three-day programme 'Jal Manthan' organised by union water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation ministry in New Delhi, said Punjab toiled hard for 67 years to make India self sufficient in food and it was the duty of the nation to allocate adequate resources for relining and redesigning the canal system.
Seeking a special package for rejuvenating rivers, Dhillon said excessive use of chemical fertilisers, insecticides, pesticides, besides industrial pollution from major cities, had made the water of major rivers unfit for consumption.
Dhillon raised the issue with union minister Uma Bharti and demanded a special financial package. Dhillon also apprised Bharti that the underground water table in Punjab was depleting fast and the day was not far when Punjab would turn into a desert.
He also raised the issue of inter-state linkages of all rivers and said that before taking any decision on this matter, Punjab's view should be taken into consideration. "Being a riparian state, we have more right over river waters in Punjab. We already face acute shortage of water."