Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 5. The Planning Commission has set up a high-level expert group under its member Mihar Shah to study the problem of water-logging in Punjab and suggest remedial measures. Minister of State for Planning, Ashwani Kumar said today that the group had been set up since the 12th Plan envisaged to bring about 20 per cent efficiency in the use of water in the country over the next five years.
The areas selected for the study include Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Muktsar and Bathinda. There are reports that at least four lakh acres of land in the state is critically waterlogged due to the rise in the water table (within 2 metres of land surface in some parts).
The 11-member group includes former Planning Commission member Dr Vaidyanathan, Dr Tushar Shah, Senior Fellow, International Water Management Institute, and Prof Karan Singh of Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana.
The minister said he had repeatedly drawn the government’s attention to reviewing water management in Punjab along with related initiatives such as rainwater harvesting and crop diversification.
He said the group would offer suggestions, including avenues for resource mobilisation to implement policy initiatives.
The government would need to find a solution to this critical problem in the border state of Punjab, the country’s food bowl.
The minister said he had also constituted a team to hold a field study in Fatehgarh Churian and Dinanagar in Gurdaspur to identify projects for social and physical infrastructure in border areas.
The team was expected to start work this month, in consultation with the local administration and people’s representatives, the minister added.