The tussle between Punjab and Haryana over sharing of river water dominated the discourse during the Northern Zonal Council (NZC) meeting here on Friday with Union home minister Rajnath Singh watching the two neighbouring states squabbling like siblings.
This quarrel continued — though in a lighter vain — even towards the end of the conference in which Rajasthan also attempted to pull punches.
According to sources privy to this off- the- cuff “friendly attack and counter attack”, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh tried to ambush his Haryana counterpart and chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, demanding water from Yamuna river.
Yamuna flows through Haryana and not in Punjab. And, one of the contentions of Punjab has been that Haryana’s claim on Punjab river waters is untenable as the rivers of the border state do not flow into Haryana. Punjab says how can Haryana claim share in water of the rivers which do not flow in its territory.
As Captain bounced this googly, Rajasthan’s water resources minister Ram Pratap pitched in, saying his state will demand water from Jhelum.
Finally, Khattar retaliated and asked Amarinder to first participate in his ambitious “mission” to revive the 4,000-year-old mythical river Sarswati. The saffron party state government, led by the RSS pracharak-turned-CM Khattar, has made a blueprint to inject life into Saraswati by flowing water in the river.
After a chance discovery of aquifers at Mugalwali village, the elated state BJP government has been trying to put its stamp on this vote-churning and religiously important project.
“Tomorrow, all of you will demand water share in Saraswati also,” quipped Khattar, according to his aide.
Sharing of water of various rivers of the region was among the 18 items the NZC discussed and deliberated upon, according to the Press Information Bureau (PIB).
The NZC consists of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh.