Himachal Pradesh Forest Minister Thakur Ram Lal today formally launched the Swan River Integrated Watershed Management Project, estimated to cost 160 crores of rupees.
The Project-launch workshop was held at Bachat Bhawan, where Santoshgarh MLA Mukesh Agnihotri, Una MLA Satpal Singh, Nangal MLA KPS Rana, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Pankaj Khullar and Director of the project, CV Panday were also present.
Speaking on the occasion, the minister said the project will be implemented in 60 of the total 180 panchayats of the district that fall under the catchments area of the seasonal Swan River that originates in the district and drains into the Satluj in Ropar district of Punjab. Swan, along with its network of 73 tributaries creates havoc during monsoons, inundating vast tracts of agricultural land besides causing widespread damage to life and property.
Thakur Ram Lal said the project would include activities like forestation, flood and soil management to reduce soil erosion, agriculture land protection and optimize the use of land resources, reclamation of currently unproductive land for use in fisheries, horticulture and agro forestry activities besides enhancing livelihood activities amongst the local community. An integrated approach would thus be required with the convergence of various departments through a micro-plan developed by a community participatory approach.
The minister said, while 135 crore rupees for the project were being funded by the Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC) as a soft loan, the Union government had principally agreed to repay the installments of the loan. The remaining share of 25 crore rupees would be borne by the state government, he said.
The eight year project would end in 2014 and is expected to be a ‘model’ for all future watershed development activities to be undertaken in the fragile Shiwalik areas of the Himalayan region.