States agree to set aside differences to tame the Ghaggar

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Old 04-May-2011
States agree to set aside differences to tame the Ghaggar

Chandigarh May 4:

Less than a month after the Union Government offered to help Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh in taming the Ghaggar, the states have shown near unanimity in accepting the project, putting aside their water and territorial discords.

While, Punjab has decided to be part of the Rs 1150 crore project, the Haryana Government has assured the Centre of its participation in using the Ghaggar floodwater for recharging the ground water.

Dr JS Samra, CEO and Chairman of the National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA), who held talks with the Punjab Government in April this year, was back today to hold talks with Haryana. He told The Tribune that all there states had decided in principal to participate in the project. The Himachal Government has also assured the Centre of all help as a large part of the Ghaggar catchment falls in that state.

The NRAA has decided to involve the Chandigarh Union Territory also as the river flows through the UT as well. Dr Samra said he had already written to the new UT Adviser and was likely to meet him when the deal was closed with Punjab in two weeks. He said all the states were willing to accept this national project, which would fund 90 per cent of the cost in every state, as a stand along project, de-linked and out of the purview of their pending disputes.

NRAA Chairman today appointed retired Chief Engineer Bhagwant Singh Sawar as a consultant for the state to work out the modalities of the scheme with various departments of Haryana that would be a stake-holder in the project. These include the departments of agriculture, public health and industries, HUDA and the pollution control board.

Chief Ministers of both Punjab and Haryana are expected to sign an MOU with the NRAA in the coming weeks. Rajwant Sandhu, Chief Secretary of the Himachal Pradesh Government has through her emissary Ram Subhag Singh, Secretary, Agriculture, assured Dr Samra that the state government is willing to participate in the project.

The Rs 1150 crore project by the Centre has been planned to curb damage to property in these states on account of flooding of the Ghaggar. Punjab and Haryana had sought Rs 1100 crore as flood relief. The project will also help reverse the negative water balance, which in Punjab is expected to touch a new low of 70 per cent.

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