Punjab CM proposes canalization of Sutlej, Ravi and Beas

Amarinder Singh presented proposal to PM Modi which suggested high-speed economic corridors on 985 km long river embankments and lining of internal side-slopes of the Sutlej, Ravi and Beas rivers

Amarinder Singh
Amarinder Singh

Bipin Bhardwaj

To enhance the region’s economic growth besides enabling conservation of water, the union government must take up canalization of Punjab’s three eastern rivers of the Indus River System as a national project, feels Punjab chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, which will not only encourage diversification of agriculture, promote quality urbanisation and colonisation but also enhance its ‘Jal Shakti’.

Amarinder Singh presented a proposal in this context to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting in New Delhi and suggested construction of high-speed economic corridors on 985 km-long river embankments, apart from river training works, flood protection measures and lining of internal side-slopes of the Sutlej, Ravi and Beas rivers.

Complimenting the Prime Minister on his initiative to provide drinking water to each household in the country through the creation of the new Ministry of Jal Shakti, the inception of Jal (water) Jeevan (life) Mission and the “Nal se Jal” (Tap Water) scheme, Captain Amarinder said his government also stands committed to the cause of providing drinking water to its citizens under the initiative ‘Har Ghar Pani - Har Ghar Safai’ (Water and sanitation in every household).

While expressing concern over reduction of river water in Punjab due to the country’s Partition in 1947 and after the reorganisation of the state in 1966, the Punjab CM pointed out that the three perennial rivers of Sutlej, Ravi and Beas irrigate only about 27 percent of the state’s cultivated area, leading to over-exploitation of ground water.

As a result, seven districts of the state will transform into a desert in the near future, with sure signs of poverty revisiting these areas, he apprehended.

Underlining the need to increase water productivity through augmentation and strengthening of water management, control and regulation infrastructure, Amarinder Singh suggested launch of the canalization project with the Sutlej river, which would require an investment of about Rs 4000 crore (US $ 0.7 billion) over a period of 3 to 5 years, exclusive of external incentives such as commercial exploitation of government and private land and waiver of taxes, duties and cesses, as relevant.

The task may begin with a feasibility study that may be assigned to techno-economic experts of international repute, he suggested.

The CM assured that the state would extend its full cooperation to get the proposal realised in terms of sending a team of officers from Punjab Government to engage and discuss the same with officials of the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti.

Amarinder Singh also underlined the need to harness river water which was currently flowing into Pakistan during the monsoons. Pointing out that the three rivers as of now have kutcha (earthen) embankments, measuring 945.24 kms (Sutlej: 484.12 kms, Ravi: 245.28 kms and Beas: 215.84 kms), covering almost over 60 percent of the state’s area, he observed that one-third of the state’s population living in the riverfront areas was also suffering due to flooding that occurs during the monsoons.

The canalization of rivers and development of riverfront areas will expand activities leading to widening of the base of Punjab's economy, diversifying economic activities and sources of livelihood for the state’s rapidly growing younger generation, he added.

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