Chandigarh, March 5:

Punjab Water Resources and Soil & Water Conservation Minister S. Chetan Singh Jouramajra characterized the third budget presented by Chief Minister S. Bhagwant Singh Mann-led government as development-oriented, with a focus on the welfare of farmers and rural areas. He expressed confidence that this budget would significantly enhance irrigation facilities in the state. Chetan Singh Jouramajra said that a budgetary outlay of Rs.2,107 crore for the financial year 2024-25 to further strengthen the canal network in the state, shows that the government is committed to conserving groundwater and ensuring sustainable and long-term irrigation facilities for the farmers of the state. Aligning with the vision of Chief Minister S. Bhagwant Singh Mann, who prioritizes irrigation facilities, the state government has proposed a new Malwa canal project with an aim to cover around 1,78,000 acres, benefiting the districts of Bathinda, Faridkot, Ferozepur and Sri Muktsar Sahib,” said the Cabinet Minister, adding that this project would decrease dependence on groundwater and optimize Punjab’s under-utilized share of Beas-Satluj river water during the Rabi period. He said that the pond filling process has started in the long-awaited Shahpur Kandi Dam project, which would create an additional irrigation potential of 37,173 hectares as well as intensive irrigation of 1.18 lakh hectares area under the Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) system i.e. in Amritsar, Gurdaspur Taran Tarn, and Pathankot. The hydel power generation infrastructure would be soon completed which has an installed capacity of 206 MW.

The Cabinet Minister said that our government has prioritized works of lining of water courses and works amounting to Rs.80 crore have already been taken up throughout the state. He said that the state government has proposed an allocation of Rs.143 crore for undertaking new projects-construction/ re-modeling and lining/ re-lining works in FY 2024-25 and Rs.150 crore for the completion of relining of Rajasthan and Sirhind feeders. He said that the Mann government is aware of the depleting groundwater problem in the state, thus the budgetary outlay of Rs.194 crore has been earmarked to allow financial assistance to farmers for laying underground pipelines for irrigation. “For judicious use and effective management of available surface and groundwater resources, various water conservation techniques such as micro irrigation and underground pipelines on fields are being promoted and an area of 13,016 hectares has benefitted from it during the current year, said the Cabinet Minister, adding that the government has proposed a budgetary outlay of Rs.194 crore for soil and water conservation, including proposals to undertake two new NABARD projects for providing financial assistance to farmers for laying underground pipelines for irrigation. Notably, the Government acted promptly to minimize losses due to floods last year and allocated Rs.100CR for cleaning operations along around 3,461 km of drains and for implementing 68 flood protection projects at ground. Besides this, Rs.192 crore was spent to address breaches in major rivers caused by incessant rains and floodwater.