With Haryana deciding to move Supreme Court to challenge Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, SAD-BJP led Punjab government on Friday said it has approached the apex court seeking directions to the Centre for constitution of a tribunal for reallocation of river water.
The Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, annulling all inter-state agreements signed by Punjab on sharing Ravi and Beas waters, was passed by the Punjab assembly in 2004.
"On the directions of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, the state government has moved the Supreme Court under Article 131 of the Constitution, seeking that Union government be directed to constitute an appropriate Tribunal under Section 4 of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 and refer to it the disputes raised by the State of Punjab in its earlier complaint with the Government of India under Section 3 of the said Act for adjudication," an official spokesman said in a release here.
Punjab has also sought "adjudication of the question whether Haryana and Rajasthan are riparian states or not", the spokesperson said.
Punjab government has pleaded in its suit that it had in a complaint to the Union government, which was filed long time ago, demanded constitution of an appropriate tribunal for reallocation of the Ravi-Beas waters, due to the change in the circumstances which pertains to drastic reduction in the availability of Ravi-Beas waters from 17.17 million acre feet (MAF) to 14.37 MAF based on 1981-2002 flow series.
"The water has got further reduced to 13.38 MAF based on the latest flow series 1981-2013," he said.
He said alarming reduction in ground water level of Punjab, hydrological and environmental impact on Punjab on account of huge diversion of water to Yamuna basin areas, availability of additional water of 4.65 MAF to Haryana as provided in the Yamuna agreement in May 12, 1994 amongst Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh were some other reasons.
In the suit, a direction has been sought to the Centre to fulfill its obligation to constitute a tribunal as requested by Punjab, he added.
The state government has pleaded that a time limit of one year has been fixed under the Interstate Water Dispute Act for constitution of a tribunal after a complaint is filed, but more than 10 years have elapsed but Government of India has not taken any action in the matter, the spokesperson said.
"Punjab had been following up its complaint vigorously with Union of India in writing since long. The chief minister has also been personally taking up this issue with the Government of India from time to time.
"Punjab was left with no other alternative except to approach the Apex Court for a direction to Centre to constitute a tribunal for reallocation of water, he said.
Punjab government has also said that the state has a preferential right to use the Ravi-Beas water, which was a deficit basin, he said, adding that Yamuna basin of Haryana lost its claim over the waters of Ravi and Beas after the conclusion of Yamuna Agreement dated May 12, 1994 and further proposed link of Sharda Yamuna.
The supply of Beas water to Yamuna basin areas of Haryana has threatened water usage of Punjab particularly in the districts of Ferozepur, Faridkot, Muktsar, Moga and part of Sangrur, Mansa and Bathinda, he claimed.
"The state government has also pleaded that it is a well recognised principle that all water allocations were subject to review after a period of 20-25 years. Therefore, fresh adjudication of water allocations was required based on the scientific study and due to changed circumstances," he said.
Notably, Manohar Lal Khattar-led Haryana government on February 3 had announced to file a fresh suit in the Supreme Court to declare the Termination of Agreements Act passed by the Punjab assembly null and void.
Haryana government had also said that it would seek early hearing of Presidential Reference, regarding the validity of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, which has been pending for a long time.
On this, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had later said, "The state does not have a single drop of excess water for any other state."