CHANDIGARH: Responding to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s call for marathon discussions to resolve the Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal (SYL) issue, Punjab and Haryana on Friday agreed to try and find a solution to the dispute through dialogue.
The Home Minister’s plea came after Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, hosting the 28th meeting of the Northern Zonal Council (NZC) here, pushed for a consensual resolution of the dispute. He called for coordination by the states concerned with the Union government to find a feasible solution for optimal utilisation of river waters based on internationally accepted riparian principles.
Agreeing to Amarinder’s suggestion of talks to resolve the issue, Rajnath Singh, while chairing the meeting, said efforts should first be made to find a solution through marathon meetings, failing which the matter should be left to the courts to decide. He suggested that the chief ministers and chief secretaries of both the states should sit and discuss the issue in order to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution. Amarinder then suggested the Union Water Resource Ministry should convene a meeting of the CMs and CSs at the earliest to take it forward.
Amarinder pointed out that with an estimated 10 lakh acres of southern Punjab likely to go dry following the construction of the SYL, the region, which had seen the emergence of Naxalism, could become the hotbed of terrorism, triggering a national problem. Though Haryana had less land, it had been given more water at the time of Punjab’s reorganisation, said Amarinder, adding that Punjab did not get any share of Yamuna water.
Earlier, in his official address, Amarinder reiterated his demand for re-assessment and re-determination of the availability of surface waters in the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers. Pointing out that Punjab was suffering an ecological crisis because of depletion of groundwater, he urged the central government to take expert advice on how to make reliable estimates of future flows in these rivers.
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal said, “The state government is willing to work towards an amicable settlement of every issue but we must always honour agreements arrived at in the past. Since our faith in the Constitution of India is full and unflinching, we would never hesitate in taking legal recourse in our determination to safeguard our interests and to protect the rights of the residents of the state”.
“Haryana is a water-stressed state as against the demand of 36 million acre feet (MAF) water, the availability of water is only 14.7 MAF. We have to give, out of our own share in the Yamuna waters, extra water to Delhi in compliance of the Apex Court's orders, even as Punjab is not delivering Haryana's full share of the Ravi-Beas water”, he added.
He also urged the Union government to expedite the construction of Renuka, Kishau and Lakhwar-Vyasi dams on river Yamuna. He said that it was also a matter of national concern that even after the signing of the Indus Water Treaty in 1960, more than 3 MAF of water is being allowed to flow into Pakistan.
Khattar said that the supplies in river Yamuna had been dwindling over the recent years and there being no dam on it, precious water goes waste during the monsoon season. He also termed it most unfortunate that thousands of villages in Haryana and millions of hectares of land were bereft of the water that was due from Punjab.