Haryana on Wednesday slammed the Punjab government for trying to make political capital on the issue of strengthening of Ghaggar bundh (construction of a concrete wall alongside Hansi Butana canal).
In a statement, irrigation minister, Harmohinder Singh Chatha said that it was unfortunate that Punjab, where assembly elections were due early next year, was indulging in mud slinging.
Chatha said it would be wrong to attribute the floods in Haryana as well as in Punjab to the construction of Hansi-Butana link canal. The floods happened due to the construction of embankments on the Ghaggar side. The Pachisdhara has also not been widened and there was jacketing of water on Punjab side. He said that it should not be forgotten that peak discharge recorded in Ghagar last year was 65,000 cusecs which was second highest in last 50 years.
Chatha said that it did not behove Punjab to raise the issue about a bund, which has been existing since 1950s. He said this fact has been admitted by Punjab government in its rejoinder filed before the Supreme court. “Bunds were constructed to stop the water from flowing to the other side. Haryana Irrigation department was only strengthening the already existing bund, existing for more than last 50 years,’’ he said.
Chatha said that Haryana Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda did not receive any letter from his Punjab counterpart on the issue except for the one written by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on May 18, 2011.
“The Haryana Chief Minister on June replied to the May 18 letter of Punjab Chief Minister. Punjab has since filed an interlocutory application (IA) in the Supreme Court which has been listed twice. But Punjab has failed to get any relief from the apex court,’’ Chatha said.
The Irrigation Minister said that Haryana Chief Minister in his June 2 reply to Punjab CM had said that Punjab was unnecessarily making the strengthening of Ghaggar bandh a political issue due to the impending assembly elections in the state.
“It is evident from the fact that Punjab Chief Minister wrote the letter on the very day when a statement on the issue (construction of concrete wall) was made by Punjab opposition leader. Punjab government did not raise this issue earlier even though their engineers were aware that tenders had been invited for the strengthening work on March 7. Punjab government did not react even when the work was allotted in April. In fact, the issue was not raised till the opposition leader gave this statement. This proves that the issue was unnecessarily being politicized,’’ the Irrigation Minister said.
Chatha said that it was well known and documented that Ghaggar basin was prone to floods. These floods have occurred many times in the past, prior to construction of Hansi-Butana canal. It is because of this reason that National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA), an independent agency under Planning Commission, has conceived a scheme for harvesting flood water in the region. This agency has clearly come out with the quantum of flood water available for ground water recharging, he said.