Much to the Punjab government's displeasure, Haryana has sought about 10,000 cusecs of water from the Second Ravi-Beas Link Project, which was declared a project of national importance by the Centre in 2008.
On his visit to the Bhakra Dam at Nangal (Rupnagar) for its golden jubilee celebrations on October 22, Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had asked union minister for water resources Harish Rawat to expedite construction of the link. Being a basin state, Haryana is claiming its share of rivers falling in the Indus water basin.
"Following a report by the army and Border Security Force that a huge amount of unutilised water from the Ravi river is flowing to Pakistan, Haryana raised its claim with the water resources ministry," said Punjab irrigation chief engineer Harvinder Singh, adding that contrary to Haryana's claim, the amount of water available was much less.
In its preliminary report, the Central Water Commission (CWC) pointed that about 1,100 cusecs were available. But according to Punjab government officials, only 300-400 cusecs are available, and that too during the monsoon.
According to Haryana, the proposed second Ravi-Beas link would ensure utilisation of India's legitimate share in the Ravi waters. "Though the Centre declared it a national project five years ago, little headway has been made," Haryana had said in a communication to the CWC.
Earlier, Haryana had sought to take water from the Bhakra main line through the newly-built Hansi-Bhutana canal near Samana (Punjab), to which Punjab objected. The case is pending in the Supreme Court.
As per the proposed project, a 123-km-long link of the Ravi near Dharamkot (in Amritsar along the India-Pakistan border) to Harike (where Beas and Sutlej meet) is to be built. The water diverted from the proposed link is to be used by Punjab, and Haryana would get its share from the Narwana branch of the Bhakra main line canal. Haryana is also proposing to revive a portion of the defunct Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal to get its share of water from the proposed project.
At a meeting of the steering committee for implementation of the national project, held on November 29 last year, Punjab had given assurance for submitting a pre-feasibility report within two months.
During the steering committee meeting on September 18 this year, Punjab had said that a pre-feasibility report was under preparation and assured to submit it shortly, but hastened to add that the discharge available for diversion was meagre and the proposed 123-km link would affect land tracts as well as people.
Engineer-in-chief, Haryana irrigation department, Harmail Singh told HT that Punjab may not be keen on the project, but the CWC had given the go-ahead and said that water could be harnessed.
GS Dhillon, retired chief engineer, irrigation, Punjab, said "We should not outrightly reject the project as non-feasible, but the location for the second Ravi-Beas link at Dharamkot is not the right choice as one bank of the Ravi river is in Pakistan. Also, the Ravi, before reaching this point, passes through Pakistan. I am not sure if water is available at this point throughout the year."