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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Waterlogging: Badal seeks federal powers for states

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times   Chandigarh, October 31, 2013
First Published: 23:03 IST(31/10/2013) | Last Updated: 23:05 IST(31/10/2013)

The Punjab assembly on Thursday passed a resolution demanding the Centre's "impartial approach" towards the state for eradicating the menace of waterlogging, with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal demanding federal powers for states so that they should not be dependent on the Centre for resolving such issues.

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"Why cannot the states take decisions related to their own issues? Even the estimates for the construction of link roads are needed to be passed by the Centre," Badal said, pointing out that Punjab was at the mercy of the union government for such projects.

Badal said he himself had approached the Planning Commission and the Prime Minister several times for resolving this issue, but to no avail.

The mega project of re-lining the Rajasthan canal, he said, was pending for long. He said the Centre's decision to bear 90% of Rajasthan's expenditure and only 25% of the cost to be borne by Punjab for the project was unjustified.

STATE'S ACCOUNTABILITY

The opposition Congress took the Badal regime to task for its "failure" to handle the recent floods in Muktsar and surrounding areas.

Leader of the Opposition Sunil Jakhar, along with fellow Congress MLA Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, listed several instances where chocked drains in the region failed to channelise flood waters during heavy rain.

Jakhar cited official figures where crores of rupees under the natural calamity fund remained unspent.

Warring said 72km of drain length in Muktsar district was faulty and choked, while the funds to clean the same drain lengths were shown as utilised in the official records.

Muktsar MLA Karan Brar (Congress) said the drains laid back in 1996-97 were faulty with uneven slopes, leading to blockage of water.

Earlier, the chief minister highlighted that the cotton crop and citrus fruit cultivation were under great threat due to saline groundwater inundating some 2 lakh hectares, affecting an equal number of farmers.

Of the 2 lakh hectares, 52% of the area was under 'sem' (saline water) in Muktsar district alone.

The resolution was passed unanimously amid assurance from the Congress members for joining the state delegation to Delhi to press the Centre for resolving obstacles in funding for re-lining of the Rajasthan canal.

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