The Punjab today forcefully raised sought a package on the pattern of Ganga river for rejuvenation and cleaning of all rivers of Punjab besides seeking a one time allocation for relining and redesigning the archaic canal system that was responsible for success of Green Revolution in country.Speaking to a standing applause by participating states, State Irrigation Minister Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon when reminded the nation that it was Punjab that has bled itself for last 67 years to make India self sufficient on food security front and it becomes now duty of the nation to allocate adequate resources for relining and redesigning of canal system in one go besides sanctioning a special package for recharging the fast depleting underground water of the state.
He said that we should not forget 1950s when our country was moving with a begging bowl to import foodgrains from other countries and the Punjabi farmers with the stint of their hard work and technology provided by Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, made country proud by ensuring self sufficiency on food security front within 10 years without any central grant.
He said that now when the greenery of the country has bled itself to feed 125 crore population of the country despite 1.25 % of geographical area, it becomes now bounden duty of the nation to support the sick canal and river system of the state.Seeking a special package for rejuvenating rivers, Mr Dhillon said that excessive use of chemical fertilisers, insecticides, pesticides, besides industrial pollution from major cities has made water of major rivers unfit for even animals consumption. He said that rising number of Cancer cases is a grim reminder that in a mad race to feed country by increasing our agricultural production, we have inadvertently played with the ecological system which has to be brought back on rails with the liberal help of union government.
Dhillon today raised the issue of our river water getting polluted with Ms Uma Bharti, Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and demanded a special financial package so that our rivers can be cleaned. He said that river water pollution is a big issue in Punjab as people in several districts have fallen ill.While interacting with Ms Uma Bharti, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon praised the Narendra Modi government for taking up the issue of cleaning of River Ganga. "Ours an agrarian state and being land locked, river waters and canals are the only means to irrigate our fields as the underground water table is already depleting. Our rivulets like Budha Nullah in Ludhiana are highly polluted and special consideration should be given towards this regard," Mr Dhillon said while addressing a three-day "Jal Manthan" organised by the Centre government in New Delhi.
The basic idea of "Jal Manthan" is to evolve strategies for better water resource development and management through wider consultations amongst various stake holders. Ms Uma Bharti, Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation was the chief guest on the inaugural day of this event.
The Irrigation Minister said that the underground water table in Punjab is depleting fast. "If the underground water continued to deplete at the same pace, day of not far when Punjab would turn into a Desert," he said. Mr Dhillon said that when the Congress led UPA government was in power in Centre Punjab, it meted step motherly attitude towards Punjab.
"I want to reiterate that our state does not have excess water which can be supplied so other neighbouring states. We are already finding it very difficult to supply ample water for irrigation to all villages. Besides, our more than a century old canal system has already collapsed and we require funds for redesigning and relining of our canals. The state government is already spending crores of rupees for relining of our canals every year. But we want that Punjab should be given a special financial package for this purpose because we are the main contributors of foodgrains to central pool," asserted Mr Dhillon.Mr Dhillon also raised the issue of inter state linkage of all rivers with Ms Uma Bharti and said that before taking any decision on this matter, Punjab's view should be taken. "Being a riparian state, we have more right over river waters in Punjab. We already face acute shortage of water."The Irrigation Minister said that when these issues were raised before Ms Uma Bharti, she responded positively and assured all possible help to the state government.