CM Badal’s Lambi in limbo on waterlogging project
The department of forests and wildlife preservation has failed to give a smooth start to the project of reclaiming waterlogged areas in southwestern Punjab, particularly in Lambi constituency of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.punjab Updated: Feb 20, 2016 23:36 IST
The department of forests and wildlife preservation has failed to give a smooth start to the project of reclaiming waterlogged areas in southwestern Punjab, particularly in Lambi constituency of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Before clearance last month, the detailed protect report (DPR) travelled back and forth at least three times between principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) Kuldeep Kumar, who is head of the department, and additional PCCF HS Grewal, who is project’s chief executive officer (CEO). The approval came with a condition that compaction of the ridges over which eucalyptus was grown was not required. Experts from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and Dehradun’s Forest Research Institute (FRI), besides a technical note from the Haryana forest department, have stressed on the compaction and dressing of ridges, which was disallowed.
Initially, 129 hectares in the Lambi area, left redundant for 20 years because of water accumulation, is to be covered under the project b planting 1.5lakh saplings over it. The grant of Rs 3 crore sanctioned for the project is to be spent by this August; and the department is yet to finalise the most critical ingredients such as procuring saplings of colonel eucalyptus and vermin-compost, and the terms and conditions for hiring JCBs at the work site.
War over mechanism
Project CEO Grewal is also member secretary of the project implementation committee led by the financial commissioner (forests), while PCCF Kuldeep Kumar is member secretary of a governing council for the project, which is to take final decisions. The CM is council head. Grewal told HT he had adopted best practices to run the project in a transparent manner. The PCCF has asked Bathinda bio-drainage division DFO Daljit Singh to procure colonel eucalyptus saplings and arrange vermin-compost locally, regarding which Grewal wants to go by the set procedure and get saplings from the department’s hi-tech nurseries.
“We have a mechanism in place at department level to make purchases after getting it cleared from the committee concerned, and when we have been involving this committee for rest of the works, why not for the project against water accumulation,” said Grewal, recommending that the rates for machinery involved should also be finalised.
For procuring 250 tonnes of quality vermin-compost required, the CEO suggested involving the committee from the Kandi (sub-mountainous) belt, as experts have suggested that locally procured compost may not be best suited to growing eucalyptus because of high salt content. Compost from the Kandi belt is also supplied to the apple growers of Himachal Pradesh.