CHANDIGARH: The Punjab Assembly on Friday passed unanimously the Punjab Water Resources (Management and Regulation) Bill, 2020, thus paving the way for the creation of Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority to manage critical water resources in the border state.
The Bill was introduced by Irrigation Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria in the House.
Intervening in a discussion on the Bill, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said that an all-party meeting would be held on January 23 to formulate a comprehensive strategy to tackle the fast-depleting water resources in the state.
All matters related to the state's water issues, including the Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal, poor quality of groundwater and pollution caused by industrial and domestic waste, would be thoroughly discussed at the proposed meeting to evolve a consensus on a detailed strategy to be chalked out to address these problems, the Chief Minister added.
The Chief Minister told the Vidhan Sabha on the last day of the two-day special session that invitations for the meeting have already been sent out.
Both the opposition Aam Aadmi Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal supported the Bill, while expressing grave concern over the scarce water resources and the depleting groundwater table in the state.
In response to issues raised by Leader of the Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema, the Chief Minister flayed the opposition for its constant criticism of his government on the issue, while themselves failing to contribute in any way to tackle the problem.
Pointing out that Capt Amarinder Singh had already given up power subsidy for tube wells, he challenged the Opposition leaders to show if any of them had heeded his appeal to do the same.
The appeal, he said, was aimed at ensuring judicious use of groundwater and inculcating the habit of water conservation.
Describing the depleting groundwater table and the growing pollution of river waters as serious issues, the Chief Minister reiterated his government's commitment to resolve the problem, which was particularly acute in southern Punjab districts like Muktsar Sahib, leading to large number of cancer cases.
Citing his visit to Israel to explore ways and means to tackle the problem of water scarcity, the Chief Minister said the West Asian country was also facing acute crisis and facing exhaustion of its water resources in the next 15 years.
He said that Punjab could risk overexploitation of water resources only if it was prepared to become a desert state in the coming years.
The Chief Minister apprised the House that his government had already signed an agreement with Israeli company Mekorot for formulation of a master plan for the conservation and management of water resources.