Amarinder seeks central assistance to reinforce Ghaggar embankments

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Sangrur/Patiala, July 23 (IANS) Blaming the Akalis for the Central Water Commission (CWC) taking control of the Ghaggar river, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said he would meet Union Ministers and officials to press for reinforcing of the river’s breached embankments, which had caused serious damage to standing crops and other assets in Sangrur and Patiala districts.

The division of Punjab in 1966 had led to the Ghaggar river passing under the control of the CWC, resulting in the state relinquishing the task of maintaining its embankments, the Chief Minister said.

Moreover, the Akalis had even stopped the river reinforcement work undertaken by him during his previous term in office, he said.

During his previous tenure, the Chief Minister had completed 22 km of reinforcement of the embankments, after which all work was suspended by the succeeding Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government, Singh added.

Urging Haryana also to join hands with to resolve the issue, the Chief Minister said the Ghaggar’s embankments on both the Punjab and Haryana sides need to be strengthened and made motorable, wherever possible, to avoid a repeat of the floods, and the attendant losses and misery.

Pointing out that Punjab had submitted its proposal for taming the Ghaggar to the CWC six years ago, the Chief Minister also said that the CWC had, in March, ordered a feasibility study by the independent agency Central Water and Power Research Station, Pune.

He said he will ask the Union government to direct the CWC to give necessary clearance expeditiously to allow Punjab to undertake Phase 2 of the project from Makror Sahib to Karail covering a distance of 17.5 km.

Amarinder Singh was speaking with farmers and mediapersons in Moonak (Sangrur) and Badshahpur (Patiala) after an aerial survey to assess the flood damage caused by a breach in the Ghaggar river catchment area, following torrential rains.

The Chief Minister, who flew over Rajpura, Ghanaur and Shatrana before stopping at Moonak, said about 50,000 acres of crop had been lost in Patiala and another 10,000 acres in Sangrur due to the breach in the Ghaggar catchment area.

A special land cultivation survey was under way to assess the crop damage and would be completed as soon as the water recedes, the Chief Minister said, promising adequate compensation against all losses.

The compensation would be released the day he receives the report on the special cultivation survey, he added.

The Ghaggar river was creating problems even in Bathinda, where the police lines had come under water, Singh said, adding that the district had received the highest rainfall in 40 years, causing water to flow at very high levels.

The Chief Minister also announced a Rs 60 lakh grant for rebuilding the damaged bridge that in Sirkapda village of Ghanaur.

–IANS

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