The Punjab Government under the leadership of Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh is fully committed to improve the lot of ground water situation so as to provide clean and potable drinking water to the people.”Disclosing this here today, the Local Government Minister, Punjab, Mr. Navjot Singh Sidhu said that The need of immediate measures to check the rapid decline and deterioration of ground water has already been understood by the Punjab Government, which has already initiated the process of switching to Surface water (Canal water) based water supply for all these three major cities. Detailed proposals were made by the Department of Local Government under the guidance of Principal Secretary Mr. A. Venu Parshad and CEO, PMIDC Mr. Ajoy Sharma, for using Canal water and provide treated potable water supply in the three cities of Ludhiana, Amritsar and Patiala with the study report concerning Jalandhar also in the pipeline.The minister further elaborated that considering the huge investment requirements, the Punjab Government had approached the Union Government for arranging the funds through External Funding Agencies such as World Bank (WB) and Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), had accorded the technical clearance of all the three water supply schemes in the months of April 2018 and further forwarded it to Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance (Government of India). A meeting was held today in the office of DEA, Ministry of Finance wherein, In Principle approval has been granted to the proposed Surface water based water supply schemes for all the three cities.
Mr. Sidhu also detailed that the Union Government will now send the proposal to World Bank for Ludhiana & Amritsar and to ADB for Patiala, for the assistance and fund allocations. The total cost pertaining to the implementation of the project in the 3 cities is Rs. 3508.1 crore. The process of approvals and sanctioning of Loan from lending agencies and further selection of contractor is expected to be completed with 12-14 month, after which the works are expected to start on ground.Divulging more, the minister said that the drinking water supply system of major cities viz. Amritsar, Ludhiana and Patiala is based on Ground water. The cities have witnessed sharp decline of Ground water levels in recent few years. The situation is worsening due to unregulated and over extraction of ground water. As per the reports of Central Ground water board (CGWB), the groundwater level in these cities have declined at an alarming rate of approximate 1m per year in last 3-4 years. The report mentions that the extraction of ground water in these cities is 150% more than the net groundwater availability, and therefore, these areas have been declared in ‘’DARK ZONE’’ category. Due to rapid depletion in Ground water levels, the existing Tubewells in cities are unable to yield the required quantum of water; forcing the civic agencies to bore new Tube wells every year. As per the report available with Municipal Corporation of these cities, every year, approximately 8-10% of Tubewells in these cities are failing to serve (going dry).
Giving city wise details, Mr. Sidhu added that the Ludhiana city, having a census 2011 population of more than 16 lakh, is proposed to be served through Sidhwan canal. The proposed works will include Water Treatment Facilities, Transmission network, additional Storage facilities and Revamping of old and damaged distribution system of the city area. The investment requirements are estimated to be around 1468.86 Crore.The citizens of Amritsar (census 2011 population of 11.37 Lakh) will be served treated surface water from MBL canal. In addition to new Treatment and storage facilities, the old and problematic distribution systems will be replaced with a new and robust pipe network. The works will require investment of about 1339.24 Crore.The city of Patiala having a a census 2011 population of 4.45 Lakh , will get water from Bhakra canal and will require investments of the order of 700 Crore, for construction of new facilities and revamping of existing distribution system.It is worth mentioning that the deterioration of groundwater quality is the major concern in the cities. The CGWB reports indicate that groundwater in shallow aquifers of Ludhiana and Amritsar, closer to industrial units, is contaminated due to presence of heavy metals. The deeper aquifers has also started showing water quality deterioration as the values of certain parameters such as Hardness, Total Dissolved Solids, Alkalinity are exceeding the Acceptable limits of Drinking water as per the norms. The level of service delivery is also a challenge for the civic agencies. The agencies are facing it hard to deliver the quality services to the citizens especially in terms of Quality, Pressure and Quantum. The civic agencies blame it to the old and unplanned distribution system, which is prone to leakages.