Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has directed the Water Resources Department to immediately finalise the modalities for setting up a Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority (PWRDA) for conservation and management of the state’s water resources.
The proposed authority will be empowered to issue tariff orders for charges to be levied by all entities supplying water for any purpose except agriculture.
The Chief Minister, who reviewed the ground water situation in the state with the Chief Secretary and officials of the Water Resources Department on Saturday, directed officials that the proposal to set up PWRDA should be presented before the cabinet, which is scheduled to meet on Monday, for approval.
According to a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office, the authority will have the mandate to fix tariffs after hearing the concerned entities and the public.
The Authority will also be empowered to issue directions and guidelines for the conservation and management of all the water resources.
However, the government will have the powers to issue directions to the Authority that are in public interest. The Authority shall be bound to follow and act upon such directions, the spokesperson said.
Expressing concern over the depleting water table in the state, the Chief Minister said that if immediate steps were not taken for conservation and management of water, many parts of the state would turn into desert in 15 to 20 years.
“We owe this (thrust on water management) to our children and the coming generations,” said the Chief Minister.
Referring to his recent visit to Israel, the Chief Minister said that he was highly impressed by the water management and irrigation techniques adopted by them, transforming their country from a water scarce to a water surplus one.
He said the visionary laws and policies, measurement and proper pricing of water, and adoption of innovative technology, coupled with education and awareness, had worked wonders for Israel.
Captain Amarinder Singh told the officers that during his visit to the Dan Region Wastewater Treatment Plant (Shafdan), officials of Mekorot, Israel’s National Water Company, had informed him that Israel reuses 85% of treated effluents, the highest rate in the world, and they were aiming to take this up to 95% in the coming years.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister also reviewed the outcome of the One Time Settlement Policy of the Industries Department, which was approved by the Cabinet on Oct 16 last year. He was informed that since the response of the industry to the OTS was lukewarm, the department had decided to bring in a more liberalised policy.
After discussions with the officials of the Industry Department, the Chief Minister approved its proposals to bring in a fresh liberalised one-time settlement (OTS) policy for equity and loans of PSIDC and its Subsidiary Companies and the PFC. These proposals will also come up for discussion and approval at Monday’s cabinet meeting.
According to the spokesperson, the main features of the proposed OTS Policy-2018 for PSIDC and PFC will include waiver of interest on loans for loss-making companies and reduction in the interest rates for those making profit. The proposal has been drafted after consultations with representatives of industries and industrial bodies, the spokesperson said.>