Shimla: Known as the sorrow of Una, the Swan River after partial channelisation is turning around the agrarian economy with introduction of cash crops as more and more lands is reclaimed from a catchment area that suffered periodic floods and massive soil erosion.
Irrigation minister Ravinder Ravi told My Himachal News, for channelising the second phase of this seasonal river system National Bank of Rural Development (NABARD) has released Rs 40.30 crore. The first phase on which Rs 106 crore are being spend is nearing completion, he added.
The river system with a catchment area of 1400 square kilometers in only 85 kilometers long of which 65 Kms with and catchment area of 1200 square kilometers is in Himachal. The remaining part is in Punjab.
Under Phase I about 2260 hectares of land has been reclaimed and it has started providing gainful employment to many farming families, says Satpal Satti, a legislator from Una district.
â€œThe crops grown range from potato, sugarcane, kinnow, oranges and some families successfully taken to fisheries,â€ said Satti.
Sensing the potential for growing sugarcane in the Swan catchment area, the previous government had approved two sugarcane mills for Una district.
Ravi said “till the proposal of channelisation was taken up in 1999, under the earlier tenure of the BJP government the 37 season streams that constitute the river system used to wreck havoc. Not only was there massive erosion but vast stretches of land remained inundated destroying crops and property.”
He said that the NABARD funds just released would help in stabilizing additional 5 kilometers of the river system. Over Rs 200 crore would be needed to complete the remaining embankment of Swan River in Himachal. Phase III of the project would help to reclaim land in the Punjab. The fully treated river system would make additional 7260 hectares available for cultivation in Himachal and would bring about a green revolution in Una district, said Ravinder Ravi.