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Punjab has no surplus waters for other states!

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Punjab has no surplus waters for other states!

Sunday 8th May, 2005

Anoop Singh - Panthic Weekly Staff

Bhatinda, Punjab (KP) - Following the recent demand by the Rajasthan High Court that the State of Punjab should hand over control of the Ferozepur, Harike and Ropar canal headworks, all three located in Punjab territory, to the illegal Bhakhra Beas Management Board (BBMB), Punjab CM has stated that the state has no surplus waters for other states.

The Rajansthan court further directed the Central government in New Delhi to ensure compliance of its illegal order within thirty days. Speaking at Communist function on May 6 in Bhatinda, Punjab CM, Capt. Amarinder Singh said, "According to the 1971 measurements, Punjab had 17.1 MAF water, while the recent testings showed the decline to 14.6 MAF only." He further stated that because of the Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL), 9 lakh acres of fertile land in Punjab had been destroyed resulting in16 lakh farmers losing their source of income.

Rajasthan was drawing 8.6 MAF of water from the Ravi-Beas system through the Rajasthan canal, also called the Indira Gandhi Canal. It was one of the largest canals in the world having the capacity to carry 18,500 cusecs of water. Rajasthan was also getting 1.5 MAF through the Bhakra Mainline canal besides 1.1 MAF through the Gang canal, also called the Bikaner canal.

Meanwhile, a Punjab river water expert, Mr Pritam Singh Kumedan appealed to the state government saying, “It is the right time to challenge the claim of Rajasthan on the river waters passing through Punjabâ€. Speaking in Chandigarh on May 2, he went on to say that Punjab had been showing unnecessary generosity towards Rajasthan by allowing it to draw water from the Ravi-Beas and other river systems despite the fact that it being a non-riparian state was therefore not automatically entitled to a drop of water.

"Nowhere in the world was a non-riparian province or country allowed to draw water from the share of a riparian province or country. Even in India, no riparian state except Punjab gave water from its share to non-riparian states. But Rajasthan, even though it was a non-riparian state, had been drawing a huge share of 11.2 MAF from Punjab waters for a long time," he stated. "Its capitalised value was Rs 6 lakh crore", he added.

Mr Kumedan said that except for 1.1 MAF of water, which Rajasthan was getting through the Gang canal by paying “seigniorage†(revenue) to Punjab, there was no justified claim of that state on Punjab waters. He said that the then Union Irrigation Minister, Gulzari Lal Nanda had allocated 8.0 MAF to Rajasthan from the river waters on January 29, 1955 at a meeting of the Chief Engineers of the states concerned. No formal agreement was signed between Punjab and Rajasthan at that meeting. Allocation was made just on the basis of the proceedings of the meeting to Rajasthan, he added. Later on January 31, 1981, Indira Gandhi unilaterally increased Rajasthan’s share to 8.6 MAF, then forcing the then Punjab Chief Minister, Darbara Singh, to agree to this.

Mr Kumedan today urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to file a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the claim of Rajasthan on Punjab river waters. He said that in fact all political parties of Punjab should file a joint petition in the Supreme Court challenging the allocation of water to non-riparian Rajasthan. He said this was the most important issue which should be settled once and for all. Mr Kumedan said that the Bhakra Beas Management Board was an unconstitutional body and its formation should also be challenged in the Supreme Court.

The reporter can be reached at anoop.singh@panthic.org

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