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Include Punjab in Atal Bhujal Yojana, Amarinder urges PM

Chandigarh

26-December-2019

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the state's inclusion in the Rs 6,000 crore Atal Bhujal Yojana for conservation of groundwater resources.

Cited media reports about exclusion of Punjab from the scheme, the Chief Minister, in his letter, urged the Prime Minister to direct the Jal Shakti Ministry to include the state.

The Jal Shakti Ministry has selected seven states under the new scheme, which is proposed to be implemented in 8,350 water-stressed villages in Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

Expressing surprise and concern over Punjab's non-inclusion in the scheme given the fact that the rate of depletion of groundwater is the highest, Amarinder Singh pointed out that 20 of the 22 districts of the state, other than Pathankot and Muktsar, are under serious stress of depletion of ground water.

In fact, he pointed out, the Jal Shakti Ministry had even deputed officers to visit these districts earlier this year.

He further mentioned that over three-fourth of the blocks in the state had been declared water-stressed, including some as critical, as per a recent report of the Central Groundwater Board.

"I need not over-emphasise the fact Punjab had depleted its only natural resource, i.e. groundwater, thanks to the practice of intensive agriculture, especially cultivation of paddy, for achieving food security for the nation," the Chief Minister wrote.

He also pointed out that availability of surface water had also declined in the last few decades.

Therefore, based on empirical data, Punjab presents a strong case for immediate assistance for water conservation, he added.IANS