January 27, 2023 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Chandigarh: India’s Jal Shakti Ministry has said that the issue of concrete lining of Rajasthan canal in Punjab is a matter related to ‘state government’s subject’.
A Faridkot resident Shankar Sharma had written to the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India, against Concrete lining of Rajasthan Canal in Punjab.
Taking notice of Sharma’s letter written on behalf of Masoom Pravaz Welfare Society, the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (Ministry of Jal Shakti) Senior Joint Commissioner Amit Kumar Jha wrote to Chief Secretary, Water Resource Department (Government of Punjab): “[a]s the issue raised in this letter is related to a state government’s subject, therefore you are requested to take necessary steps and issue necessary directions to inform the applicant in this regard” (translated from Hindi).
Union Govt. Throws Ball in Punjab Government’s Court:
As opposition to the concrete lining of the Indira Gandhi Canal (IGC) is growing stronger in Punjab, the Union government has thrown the ball in Punjab government’s court. Under the relining project, a 10-mm polythene sheet with cement, mortar and brick-tile is being used. A tripartite agreement for remodeling-cum-relining of these canals was signed by the Union Ministry of Water Resources and the Rajasthan and Punjab governments on January 23, 2019. Now, when the project is inviting people’s anger, the Union government has said that it is a matter related to the state government’s subject.
Why People Are Opposing Concrete Lining of IGC:
A number of social welfare societies, civil activists’ bodies and farmers groups are opposing concrete lining of the Indira Gandhi Canal, also known as Rajasthan Canal in Punjab.
The issue of concrete lining of IGC has become an issue inviting extensive activism in southern parts of Punjab as both rural and urban population have felt that the project will drastically affect their lives.
Ground water in this area is saline and is not fit for drinking or irrigation purposes. Seepage from IGC has improved the quality of groundwater to some extent making it usable for drinking and irrigation purposes. If the canal is concrete lined after laying layers of fiber or polythene sheets these parts of Punjab are bound to face a massive water crisis. Cities like Faridkot will face severe shortage of drinking water.
Resolutions Adopted by Misl Satluj:
Misl Satluj, an activists’ group, held a protest demonstration on the isthmus of Rajasthan canal and Sirhind Feeder canal at Ferozeshah on Moga-Ferozepur Road on 15 January 2023.
Resolutions passed by the Misl Satluj during this “joint gathering” (Sanjha Ekath) opposed concrete lining of the Indira Gandhi Canal (IGC). Another resolution demanded stopping of water flowing to Rajasthan through IGC in a phased manner asking the Union government of India to make arrangements of water to Rajasthan from Ganga-Yamuna Basin. Meanwhile, the resolution says, Punjab farmers should be allowed to use water from the Indira Gandhi Canal.
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