Shimla: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh expressed concern over the inordinate delay in Central Assistance for channelization of Swan River Channelization project of the State Government in Una district.

The Chief Minister, presiding over the governing body meeting of Swan River Channelization Authority today, said the Union Ministry for Water Resources had cleared a project of about Rs 922.485 crore for the channelization of all tributaries of the Swan River. The project was funded under 70:30 scheme and as per agreement the Union Ministry was to contribute 70 per cent to the project while 30 per cent share of the State Government.

The Chief Minister said that without availability of funds, the already completed work of Swan would face damage during floods if the embankments were not constructed. He directed the authorities to write a letter to the Prime Minister of India with all details and in reference to the agreement for releasing the central share.

In the first year, the cost of the project was Rs 330 crore, out which the state government was to contribute Rs. 99 crore while remaining 231 crore to be contributed by the Union Ministry for Water Resources. In 2013-14, the central assistance of Rs. 5.551 crore was released. In 2014-15, the Ministry released Rs. 107 crore for the project whereas in the year 2015-16 and 2016-17 Rs 26.00 and Rs. 50.00 crore were released respectively by the Government of India. In total, a sum of Rs. 189.351 crore has been released by the Union Ministry since commissioning of the project.

The state government by taking loan from NABARD and from its own resources has incurred an expenditure of Rs 276 crore till March 2017. The Chief Minister was briefed that as of now, when the work on 24 tributaries of Swan was underway, an additionality of Rs. 50 crore was required to complete the ongoing work of these tributaries. The State government has contributed more than 30 percent and has done correspondence with the centre for releasing its share 11 times since August, 2015.

The Chief Minister himself has written thrice to Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources. Besides this, correspondence has been made at the level of Chief Secretary and Secretary, IPH for eight times. The Government of India, drifting away from the agreement has been citing reasons that under Flood Management Protection works, the State government was to manage from its own resources as recommended by 14thFinance Commission.

However, the total length of embankments was around 387.6 Kilometers and the total area to be reclaimed was around 7164 hectares. So far, only 162.36 kilometers of embankments and 2884 hectare area has been reclaimed.

The Chief Minister also directed to ensure a complete ban on mining on Chaunch River in Kangra district so that there was no threat to life and property in case the floods hit the area.

Irrigation and Public Health Minister Vidya Stokes, Additional Chief Secretaries Tarun Shridhar and Arvind Mehta, Principal Secretary, I&PH Anuradha Thakur were also present in the meeting alongwith the senior officers of concerned departments.