PHAGWARA: A Punjab cabinet minister has said that if crop diversification was not undertaken at the earliest, and the area under paddy plantation not reduced, the state could face severe water emergency-like situation. Speaking to reporters, Power and Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjeet Singh said, “If water is not used judiciously and saved optimally, then water emergency is written on the wall in the times to come.” He said only crop diversification could save the issues faced by the agriculture sector in Punjab. The minister advocated quick shift from present wheat-paddy cycle to horticulture, fruits, vegetables and other crops that required less water.
“If precious resource of water is not saved, then not only Punjab but other parts of the country will be embroiled in water-wars,” he warned. Singh added that about 104 blocks of Punjab were declared 'black' by the human resource development ministry. “This means that water of these blocks is polluted and not drinkable.” Singh accused SAD-BJP government of playing with the sentiments of people and blamed Badal government of discontinuing crop diversification which was begun by the Amarinder Singh government in 2002-07. “Though former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal knew the grave situation of depleting underground water table, Akalis arbitrarily gave 65,000 tubewell connections to their favourites, ignoring claims of the needy farmers,” Singh alleged.
Regarding drugs, Rana Gurjeet said that the current government was committed to snapping nexus between the police, politicians and drug mafia. “Big time drug operators have been arrested and none, howsoever, big will be spared,” he said.