The visit of the Planning Commission in 2012, followed by the visit of the union rural development minister the same year and a series of brainstorming meetings of a high- level committee formed by Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to tackle the problem of floods and waterlogging in the district have all gone waste, keeping in view the problem of waterlogging witnessed after the heavy rain during the last two days.
Nothing seems to have changed during the last two years even after the announcement of a package of Rs 2,246 crore to tackle the problem in the state. Out of this, nearly Rs 950 crore are meant for Muktsar alone. But, so far only Rs 50 crore have been spent by the authorities concerned here.
Irrigation minister Sharanjit Singh Dhillon and principal secretary KJS Cheema are visiting Muktsar’s rain-affected villages, but they hardly have any help to offer other than monitoring the arrangements of tents for affected villagers.
The problem of waterlogging in villages of the district is quite common during monsoon.
According to the district administration, 40 villages are facing a flood-like situation at present.
However, the official figure might be just an eyewash, as Congress has been claiming that at least more than 100 villages are affected.
Then member of the Planning Commission of India, Dr Mihir Shah and his team, had visited Lambi in Muktsar in 2012 to find out the solution to waterlogging. It was followed by the visit of then union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh in November 2012.
Then, Punjab CM had formed a high-level committee to coordinate with the union government on the issue and finally Jairam Ramesh had announced a package of Rs 2,246 crore to tackle the problem.
However, despite all this paper work, rain has again come back to haunt the home district of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
The authorities concerned are running short of excuses to explain the situation.
Technical adviser to Punjab chief minister BS Dhaliwal claimed that there was no dearth of money to deal with the problem, at the same time saying that the government is also going to take money on loan to implement the master plan to solve the waterlogging problem.
“This year, the situation has developed due to different reasons. We have been asking people to cooperate.
The entire project will take at least 4-5 years for implementation. We have already floated tenders for some work,” said Dhaliwal.
When asked if delay in the release of money from the Cantre was delaying the implementation of the plan, he said, “We are also to avail some loan to instead of waiting for money from the Centre.”
However, he claimed that this year’s problem has nothing to do with the shortage of money. “Even if there had been a lot of money, this situation was unavoidable,” said Dhaliwal.