Union minister for water resources and river development Uma Bharti on Friday refused to intervene in the water dispute between Punjab and Haryana.
Bharti, who was here to chair a national seminar on water resource management organised by the Central Ground Water Board, told reporters here that water was a sensitive issue and it should be resolved only through dialogue.
“Leave aside courts, I am not even in support of approaching tribunals for water issues. Water is vital not only for humans, but is also most essential for infrastructural development. Both the states (Punjab and Haryana) should sit together and find an amicable solution to it without a third party intervention,” she said.
Dhankar had sought intervention
Earlier at the seminar, state irrigation minister Om Prakash Dhankar had urged the union minister to assist Haryana in getting its due share of river waters from the neighbouring Punjab.
However, Bharti chose to ignore the demand but commented that associating the word ‘dispute’ with water was unjustified and ‘two states may only have issues on water which should be addressed only on the table’.
The minister called for building a national consensus against use of safe water in construction and industries.
She favoured a water policy that allows use of water based on its classified quality. “A total of 71 blocks in Haryana are declared dark zones and underground water table is depleting at an alarming rate all over the country. Similarly, river waters are polluted and under such circumstances limited drinking water resources cannot be allowed for activities like construction or industry,” she said.
The minister also ruled against allowing treated water to be flown in the rivers.
“Delhi has set an example where treated water is used for irrigation of parks and horticulture. While the Centre is working towards checking inflow of pollutants in rivers, we are planning to stop putting even treated water back into the rivers and using it for other purposes,” she said. Bharti said that Haryana and other states battling the problem of depleting underground water table should encourage plantation of trees with deep roots having the ability to store water. “States should promote drip irrigation, water sprinkling and other proven innovative technologies that not only ensure judicious use of water but also reduce evaporation from natural esources,” she said.
Bharti, who also holds the charge of Ganga rejuvenation ministry, said that she had planned to make Ganga as one of the 10 cleanest rivers in the world in the next five to seven years. She said that active public support and initiative of the state governments was needed to make the dream of an arsenic-free Ganga.
Bharti said that there was no denial that another river of religious importance, Yamuna, ceased to exist beyond Hathnikund barrage in Yamunanagar where it was channelised into canals. “What flows in the Yamuna riverbed beyond Hathnikund to elhi and Mathura is only sullage. she said.
Non-committal on Saraswati revival
Bharti also avoided making any commitment to support the Haryana government’s ‘Saraswati revival’ initiative. “ISRO is supporting Haryana on Saraswati project and experts from my ministry may consider to assist it, if a request comes in,” she said.