In the coming monsoon, which the Met department has predicted to bring in plentiful rain, many parts of Punjab may find itself under water. According to sources in the drainage department, it has received only 45 per cent of funds from the government for flood control measures.
In 2014, many parts of the state were inundated damaging crops and properties in around 10 districts.
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In January this year, Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal had met with deputy commissioners of the state.
The DCs, it is learnt, had submitted a proposed budget for strengthening of bandhs on the rivers, local canals, nullahs and repairing drains. Around 1,500 km long drains have to be cleaned and several flood-prone sites require maintenance.
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“The department had demanded around Rs 290 crore from the government,” said sources in the drainage department. “But we got only Rs 132 crore.”
“Now the drainage department has to use around Rs 62 crores from the State Disaster Response Fund. This is funded by the Centre and is supposed to be used for disaster management,” said a senior officer at Chandigarh in the revenue department. The government, it is claimed, has asked the department to repair those structures which it thinks can cause most damage and ignore the rest.
“We had demanded around Rs 16 crore for Nawanshahr district but received only Rs 6.25 crore for this purpose. Jalandhar and Kapurthala too haven’t got the funding it requires,” said a source. The drainage department in Hoshiarpur too had demanded Rs 22 crores for cleaning four main drains in Mukeriana, Tanda and Dasuya apart from strengthening the Dhussi Bandh on Beas river. “But we got only around Rs 4 crore,” said a source.
“But now we are forced to focus on priority projects, given the lack of funds. Most of the time it is not the rain but the blocked drains and weak bundhs close to rivers and nullahs were the major reasons behind the floods in the past,” said a senior official in the drainage department.
Despite repeated attempts, minister irrigation and and drainage, Sharanjit Singh Dhillon could not be reached for his comments.