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Amarinder Govt. Seeks Fresh Tribunal to re-access Punjab Waters; Haryana Seeks Construction of SYL Canal

April 21, 2017 | By

New Delhi: As per the media reports both Punjab and Haryana entangled in the controversial Satluj Yamuna Link canal issue here on Thursday meet the union Water Resources Secretary Amarjit Singh.

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh greets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo Source: The Tribune

Both Punjab Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh and Haryana Chief Secretary DS Dhesi reiterated their stand during their meeting with the Secretary.

“While Punjab demanded that a tribunal be set up for re-assessment of water in the Ravi-Beas basin, as the state had no water to spare, Haryana urged the Centre to construct the remaining portion of the SYL in Punjab territory at the earliest to carry its share of river waters”, notes a report in the Hindustan Times (HT).

An official delegation of Punjab, comprising Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh and Principal Secretary (Irrigation) KBS Sidhu, met Dr. Amarjit Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Govt of India, to convey its stand on the SYL issue, which is currently pending in the Supreme Court, reads a statement issued by the Punjab government.

Punjab apprised the Union Government of the critical water situation in the state and stressed its inability to share waters with neighbouring states, including Haryana. It urged the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi  to intervene to save the state from an “ecological disaster”, notes The Tribune.

Pointing out that Punjab did not have surplus water and needed every drop of water flowing through its land, the delegation urged the central government to come up with a realistic solution to the problem, keeping the state’s water scarcity in view.

With only 28% of its land canal-irrigated and the rest dependent on tubewells, Punjab was in urgent need of expansion of its canal system to prevent the water crisis in the state from aggravating to devastating levels, the delegation told the Secretary.

The team from Punjab was first to arrive followed by Haryana team which was waiting in the room the adjoining the Secretary’s chamber. While the Haryana team met once, Punjab was given a second hearing.

While interacting with the media Haryana’s Chief Secretary DS Dhesi while sharing the meeting minutes stated that the meeting was a follow-up to an all-party memorandum submitted by Haryana’s political parties to President Pranab Mukherjee, seeking early completion of the remaining part of the controversial SYL canal. He pointed out that all judicial and tribunal rulings had been in favour of Haryana. Karan Avtar Singh said Punjab had urged the central government to intervene and save Punjab from a possible ecological disaster. “The Secretary assured us that Punjab’s interest would be  taken care of, reads a quote from the report published in an English vernacular.

SYL Canal | File Photo

The union secretary was apprised by the Punjab chief secretary of the fact that  only 28 per cent of Punjab’s land was canal-irrigated and that the state was in urgent need of expansion of its canal system to prevent a water crisis. If the controversial SYL was constructed, an estimated 10 lakh acres of land in Punjab would go dry, he further said.

Punjab has been needlessly pushed into a so called ‘dispute’ with the state of Haryana over the sharing of river waters of Ravi and Beas with it. While Haryana is unnecessarily asking for its share of the water which it claims was decided during the Punjab state re-organisation act 1966, the successive Punjab governments have averted to do so giving rationale Haryana being a non-riparian state.  The controversy on SYL is pending in the Supreme Court of India. The case will come up for next hearing on April 27.

ALSO READ: Congress Seeks Fresh Tribunal on SYL Issue; Another Step Detrimental to Interests of Punjab


Loot of Punjab Waters – the (so-called) Agreements:

The Central Governments of India made ‘extra-legal and extra-constitutional arrangements’ (as these arrangements were made in violation of relevant provisions of the Indian Constitution) to allocate Punjab’s river waters to the afore-mentioned non-riparian states. These arrangements include the so-called agreements of 1955, 1976 (notification), 1981 (Indira Award) and 1986 (Eradi Tribunal). The Indian state used Section 14 of Interstate River Water Dispute Act, 1956 which was not applicable on Punjab rivers as Satluj, Beas or Ravi does not pass through Haryana, Rajasthan or Delhi. Similarly, section 78, 79 and 80 of Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 – under which Bhakhra Beas Management Board was constituted and other arrangements to loot the river water of Punjab were made – violate the Constitutional scheme by allowing the Centre’s interference in State’s exclusive subjects.

Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, Section 5 of PTAA and Punjab’s riparian rights:

The Punjab Termination of Agreements Act (PTAA) 2004 could be termed as a “murder” of Punjab’s riparian rights by none else than the Punjab’s own state assembly and elected representatives.

On 12 July, 2004 the Punjab Assembly passed PTAA in attempt to neutralise the Indian Supreme Court’s directions to complete the construction of controversial Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal before 14 July, 2004. The law was moved by a Congress Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh and it was supported by the opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), thus this, the PTAA was passed unanimously by the state assembly.

Though the enactment of the PTAA had paused the issue of construction of the SYL for the time being, this law has done a larger damage. Before the enactment of the PTAA the river waters of Punjab were being robbed through illegal arrangements but since the adoption of Section 5 of the PTAA, illegal allocation of Punjab’s river water to non-riparian states has received the stamp of the Punjab Assembly.

It may appear strange, but it’s true, that in order to prevent construction of the SYL (that is supposed to carry out 34 LAF river water), the Punjab Assembly accepted and legalised the distribution of a major share of Punjab’s river water (around 147.5 LAF) to the non-riparian states of Rajasthan (86 LAF), Haryana (59.5 LAF) and Delhi (2 LAF).

It should also be noted here that according to Punjab’s ex-chief engineer G. S. Dhillon, Haryana is already getting 18 LAF (out of 34 LAF) by additional discharge from the Bhakhra Bias Management Board (BBMB) through the Bhakhra Canal. Mr. Dhillon maintains that the Hansi Butana Link canal project of Haryana aims at taking away the remaining 16 LAF (SYL) water (though extra discharge in Bhakhra Main Line to which Hansi Buntana will link at Samana area of Punjab) even without actual construction of the SYL canal.

The PTAA was declared ultra vires of the Constitution by the Supreme court of India on November 10, 2016.

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