Captain Amarinder Singh calls all-party meeting on January 23 on looming water crisis
The announcement came after a demand was raised by leader of opposition and AAP MLA Harpal Singh Cheema when the House started discussion on the Punjab Water Resources (Management and Regulation) Bill, 2020, which was introduced by irrigation minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, on the second day of the two-day special assembly sessionUpdated: Jan 17, 2020 23:23 IST
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday announced to hold an all-party meeting on January 23 to discuss impending water crisis in the state due to depleting underground water levels and evolve a strategy to tackle the problem.
The announcement came after a demand was raised by leader of opposition and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Harpal Singh Cheema when the House started discussion on the Punjab Water Resources (Management and Regulation) Bill, 2020, which was introduced by irrigation minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, on the second day of the two-day special assembly session.
The Bill was passed by the House, thus paving the way for the creation of the Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority to manage critical water resources in the state.
The CM said invitations for the meeting had already been sent and all matters related to water issues in the state, including the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, poor quality of groundwater and pollution caused by industrial and domestic waste, will be taken up. A consensus to chalk out a detailed strategy to deal with the problems will be evolved, he added.
Opening the discussion on the issue, AAP legislator Aman Arora said, “The bill should be passed for optimum utilisation of subsoil water but the state government’s intent seems as if it wants to impose water charges on the poor and increase its earnings from existing Rs 24 crore to Rs 219 crore. Nearly 98% of underground water extracted is used for irrigation and no efforts are being made to conserve it.”
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA Pawan Tinu also raised the issue saying that the proposed act was nothing more than putting burden on the poor. His party colleague Gurpartap Singh Wadala said passing a law on water conservation was a positive step but the crisis was huge and the attention of the seriousness of the government was not in the same proportion.
Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains said Punjab was given step-motherly treatment by the Centre in the disbursal of funds under the Atal Jal Yojana even as the state was included under the scheme.
He demanded that state should seek royalty of Rs 16 lakh crore from Rajasthan for supplying canal water.
SAD’s Dilraj Singh Bhundar told the House that water of seasonal river Ghaggar is wasted as during the monsoons as it causes floods and rest of the year it is dry in which effluents from the adjoining cities are discharged.
The CM flayed the opposition for constant criticism of his government on the issue.
He reiterated his government’s commitment to resolve the problem and cited his visit to Israel as an attempt to explore ways to tackle the problem of water scarcity.
“Israel is also facing acute crisis. But the country situated near sea from where they could meet their domestic requirement after desalinating sea water. Unfortunately, Punjab did not have the same option,” he added.
He said the state has already signed an agreement with the National Water Company of Israel for formulation a water conservation plan.