Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 2
The Punjab Cabinet today decided to constitute a sub-committee to study ways and means to regulate the use of water in the state through conservation and management of critical water resources.
The sub-committee, comprising ministers Navjot Sidhu, Tripat Bajwa, Sukh Sarkaria and Razia Sultana, will visit Israel to study the water conservation model and examine the feasibility of its adoption in Punjab.
The move comes days after the government withdrew the Punjab Water Resources (Management and Regulation) Bill, 2018, during the winter session of the Vidhan Sabha.
As the issue came up at today’s meeting, ministers representing urban areas termed it (proposed regulatory authority) an unpopular move, arguing it would lead to water tariff being raised every year.
The Cabinet asked the sub-committee to examine the objections raised by some ministers on the scope and functioning of the proposed Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority (PWRDA).
In his presentation on groundwater crisis, Principal Secretary Water Resources Sarvjit Singh said of the 138 blocks, 109 were “over-exploited” and that groundwater extraction without prior approval had been prohibited in 45 blocks by the Central Groundwater Authority.
He said the total available groundwater was 324 billion cubic metres (BCM) and every year 35.77 BCM was being extracted — which was 11.88 BCM in excess of the annual recharge of 23.89 BCM. At this rate, the water level in the state would fall below a depth of 300 metres in 28 years.
Pointing out that the water table was declining at the rate of 0.4 metre annually, he said as many as 16 districts of the total 22 fell in the category of those over-exploiting groundwater. Sangrur, Jalandhar and Moga topped the list followed by Kapurthala, Barnala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala, Ludhiana, Faridkot, Ferozpur, Mansa, TaranTarn, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Ropar and Nawanshahr.
To ensure greater transparency and accountability in public services, a new set of draft rules under Section 20 of the Punjab Transparency and Accountability in Delivery of Public Service Act, 2018, have been framed by the Department of Governance Reforms and Public Grievances. It would ensure back-end computerisation of all public services within three years.
Tightening the noose around absconding economic offenders, the Cabinet approved the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, which entails attaching and confiscating their properties and assets.
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