Ghaggar channelisation project bears brunt if inter-state dispute

  • Navrajdeep Singh, Hindustan Times, Patiala
  • Updated: Jul 28, 2014 22:09 IST

Every election promises are made and assurances given, but nothing has been done to tame the Ghaggar — famously known as the "Sorrow of Punjab".
Thousands of people living along the banks of Ghaggar in Patiala fear floods and devastation during monsoon every year.
The Ghaggar is a non-perennial inter-state river originating from Himachal Pradesh and terminating in Rajasthan after passing through Punjab and Haryana.

In Patiala district, the river passes through Samana, Devigarh, Sanaur and Ghanaur, which are also the worst flood-hit areas of Punjab, all thanks to the uncontrolled monsoon-fed river Ghaggar. These areas had seen huge damage of life and property inflicted by floods in the river in 1988, 1993 and 2010. The river makes situation worrisome not only in Patiala district, but Sangrur district is affected too.

In this backdrop, a channelisation project for the Ghaggar was launched in 2011 which, however, became the prey of dispute between Punjab and Haryana.
In the absence of firm embankments and other flood control measures, the Ghaggar water not only spreads over fields, but enters in villages and residential areas whenever there is a heavy rain in the catchment areas.

It may be recalled that three-time Member of Parliament from Patiala failed to take up the matter strongly with the Centre to get funds for the project.
Even Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate from Patiala Deepinder Singh Dhillon, who unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha elections, had promised to resolve the Ghaggar issue at the earliest if the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government came to power.
However, after winning the elections, Aam Aadmi Party MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi had stated that he would take up the issue within eight months of his tenure.

Ghaggar channelisation delayed

The Ghaggar channelisation project has been stalled for the past one decade.

Under the project, the river would be jacketed up to 40 km from Khanauri to Karail in Sangrur district. The first phase of the project from Khanauri to Makrour Sahib, covering 22.45km, has been completed in 2010.
However, the second phase of the project from Makror Sahib to Karail, the last village of Punjab before the Ghaggar enters Haryana, has been under consideration of the Ghaggar Standing Committee for the past six years after the Haryana government refused to give a no objection certificate (NoC) to the Punjab government to complete the project.
The matter is also sub judice the in Punjab and Haryana high court.

On July 5, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in a letter urged water resource minister Uma Bharti to intervene into the matter for the clearance of the second phase of channelisation of the Ghaggar.

As per the irrigation department proposal, `1,170 crore is needed for jacketing and strengthening of the Ghaggar embankments, other flood protection work and remodelling of cross drainage work in both states.
An official with the irrigation department said though the channelisation of the river was underway in Sangrur district, it won't be possible for them to propose the same project unless and until the leftover work of the second phase was completed.

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