At crucial meet on SYL canal in Delhi, Punjab to put up watertight case
Punjab claims that availability of surplus Ravi-Beas water has reduced by 3.79 MAF (million acre feet) — from 17.17 MAF mentioned in 1981 agreement to 13.38 MAF till 2003 — as per data maintained by the Bakhra Beas Management Board (BBMB).punjab Updated: Apr 20, 2017 10:14 IST
As the top officers of Punjab and Haryana will meet in New Delhi on Thursday to discuss the contentious Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal issue, Punjab plans to put up a watertight case to counter Haryana’s claim over Ravi-Beas waters, citing shortage to meet needs of its own farmers.
Punjab claims that availability of surplus Ravi-Beas water has reduced by 3.79 MAF (million acre feet) — from 17.17 MAF mentioned in 1981 agreement to 13.38 MAF till 2003 — as per data maintained by the Bakhra Beas Management Board (BBMB).
“We need to first find out how much water is available by a fresh tribunal,” said Punjab principal secretary (irrigation) KBS Sidhu.
As per the availability in 1981, the water was divided accordingly – Rajasthan (8.6 MAF), Punjab (4.22 MAF), Haryana (3.5 MAF), J&K (.65 MAF) and Delhi (.2 MAF). As of now, Rajasthan and Haryana are getting 6.5 MAF and 1.62 MAF, respectively. “Water supply to states has gone down. Water flowing to the neighbouring states from Punjab will continue but constructing SYL is not possible,” said an officer. Haryana plans to take about 2 MAF more through the SYL canal.
Sidhu and Punjab chief secretary Karan Avtar Singh will meet counterparts from Haryana, Anurag Rastogi and DS Dhesi, on Thursday in the presence of an officer of water resources ministry, acting as a moderator.
They are coming on to the talking table with the intervention of Prime Minister’s Office and the solicitor general had conveyed the same to the Supreme Court on April 12. The next hearing in the SC is scheduled for April 27.
Calling Haryana a non-riparian state having no right over the Ravi-Beas waters, Punjab proposes to suggest that the neighbouring state should use the Yamuna water more judiciously. “Instead of forcing Punjab to construct the SYL canal for inter-basin transfer from deficit Ravi-Beas water to Yamuna basin areas of Haryana, storages over Yamuna should be constructed to utilise water going waste,” said a Punjab irrigation officer.
In Punjab canal water covers 27% of irrigation needs and 73% is done by the underground water. Out of the 138 blocks, the water table in 110 has gone down drastically and the central ground water board has declared 45 blocks critical, suggesting to ban drawing more water. The state officers are of the view that in case SYL was constructed, south-west Punjab will turn into a desert.
Taking the plea that any attempt to construct the canal will be resisted by the farmers and lead to serious consequences because 4,627 acres acquired the canal in four districts have already been handed over to the owners.
“It will not be an exaggeration to say that the militancy in Punjab was a direct consequence of SYL canal,” said an officer, adding Punjab plans to bring it on record in the Thursday meeting.