Punjab seeks re-assessment of river water share, while Haryana wants neighbour to complete SYL Canal
Chandigarh: Capt Amarinder Singh and Manohar Lal Khattar, the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana, will be meeting for the first time to discuss the contentious Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal issue under the aegis of the Union Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Tuesday afternoon.
The meeting follows the Supreme Court’s direction to the Centre on July 28 to mediate between the two states to resolve the long-pending SYL issue. The report of today’s meeting will be submitted to the court.
During the meeting, Capt Amarinder Singh is expected to compare the figures of availability of water from 1980 to 2020. “The availability of water in the Sutlej, Ravi and Beas rivers over 40 years has reduced drastically and the Centre knows that fact. We want them to start reassessment afresh,” a Punjab government officer said, requesting anonymity.
The Punjab chief minister met a battery of officers, including principal secretary, water resources, Sarabjit Singh, newly appointed chairman of the Punjab Water Regulation and Development Authority (PWRDA) Karan Avtar Singh, on Monday evening to discuss the state’s stand and strategy.
AVAILABILITY RELEVANT ONCE CANAL IS BUILT: HARYANA
Khattar met senior irrigation department officials on Monday evening at Haryana Bhawan in Delhi, where he is camping.
Haryana officials have said that completing the construction of the canal and the availability of water are two separate issues.
“The water availability issue is relevant once the capacity to carry the water is in place,” a Haryana government official said.
Quoting an example, the officials said that during the monsoon when there are no restrictions on water indent, the surplus Ravi and Beas waters can be used for Haryana’s parched southern districts to supplement the receding groundwater table. “Otherwise, this surplus water flows into Pakistan,” the official said.
The Union water resources ministry has also recorded Punjab government’s unwillingness to complete the canal after several rounds of meetings between the Centre, Haryana and Punjab in 2019 remained inconclusive.
“Punjab has clearly refused to complete the canal on the pretext of non-availability of spare water. This argument is a mere excuse to not implement the apex court orders,” a Haryana official added.
To enable Haryana to use its share of the waters of the Sutlej river and its tributary, Beas, a canal linking the Sutlej with the Western Yamuna Canal, cutting across the state was planned.
The 212-km canal was to carry Haryana’s share of water to its southern parts. While 122 km of the canal was to run through Punjab, the remaining 90km was to pass through Haryana.
Haryana completed its stretch of the SYL Canal in 1980 at a cost of Rs 56 crore, while Punjab kept delaying the construction.