The state is all set to initiate ‘Operation Sutlej clean-up’ on the pattern of the Ganga project. This is the first time that any river in the state would be cleaned.

The accumulation of silt and sand on the riverbed and along its banks from Anandpur Sahib up to Ferozepur has forced the state government to take this step. Sources said the clean-up operation would not only save several villages from the threat of floods, but also generate a lot of revenue from the sale of sand excavated from the riverbed.

“We have sought permission from the state Mining Department to excavate sand from the riverbed. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal also wants the river to be cleaned,” said state Irrigation Minister Sharanjit Dhillon.

He said the Irrigation Department officials had been directed to prepare for the operation. Dhillon said after the clean-up, the river would flow in a narrow stream, removing the threat of floods.

State Agriculture Minister Jathedar Tota Singh said residents of a large number of villages situated along the Sutlej had complained to him about the accumulation of sand along the river. “Several farmers have suffered damage to their crops due to the Sutlej overflowing often,” he said.

On whether the state government needed to seek permission from the Union Environment Ministry for the project, Dhillon said only the permission of the state Mining Department was needed.

In the first phase, the river from Anandpur Sahib to Ropar will probably be cleaned and Ropar to Ferozepur in the next phase. The state government is also planning to seek funds from the Centre for the project.

Source: September 7, 2015, The Tribune