UT administrator Shivraj Patil batted aggressively for Chandigarh's right over drinking water from the Kajauli headworks on Friday, as he "requested" both Punjab and Haryana to allow more water for the union territory (UT) from the project, which is fed by the Bhakra Main Line.
Speaking at the Northern Zonal Council meeting, chaired by union home minister P Chidambaram and attended by chief ministers of northern states, Patil said, "Being the capital of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh deserves its share of water from Kajauli."
This is arguably the first time that the Kajauli slugfest has reached the topmost echelons of power, as earlier the issue remained limited to bureaucratic meets.
Patil, who is the UT administrator by virtue of being governor of Punjab, asserted that the proposal of augmentation of the Kajauli water supply scheme is stuck, as the states are yet to give their consent.
He pointed out that Chandigarh is still struggling with a water shortage of 29 million gallons per day (MGD), and added, "Chandigarh administration is presently drawing 80 million gallons of water per day (MGD) from the Bhakra Main Line flowing 27.5km from Chandigarh at Kajauli, and using 67 MGD of this water." Panchkula, SAS Nagar and Chandimandir are further supplied the remaining 13 MGD as their share.
"The city gets another 20 MGD of water from tubewells, resulting in a total availability of 87 MGD, whereas the present requirement of Chandigarh is about 116 MGD."
Augmentation of the Kajauli scheme - adding two more phases to the existing four - is expected to give over 20 MGD more water to Chandigarh. Patil detailed the reason why the augmentation is stuck: the central government had approved Rs 171 crore for expanding the scheme, but with the condition that funds would be released only after consent for release of water is obtained from Punjab and Haryana.
"The Punjab and Haryana governments have been requested to give their consent. I would [again] request both the states of Haryana and Punjab to give their consent for the drawl of water," said Patil.