Sunday, January 7, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Punjab sells Rajasthan property
From Raj Sadosh

ABOHAR, Jan 6 A fact-finding team of revenue and irrigation officials from Rajasthan is likely to visit Ferozepore district next week to conduct a probe into reports that the Punjab Government had sold rest houses which actually belonged to the Rajasthan Government around the Gang canal.

The matter had been brought to the notice of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Ms Kamla Beniwal, Minister of State for Irrigation, when they visited Sri Ganganagar, bordering Abohar, on Wednesday.

Sources said nearly 2,000 acres from RD zero to RD 358 from Hussainiwala headworks in Ferozepore around the Gang canal belonged to Rajasthan. Maharaja Ganga Singh had to purchase the land for the canal when the Punjab Government turned down the proposal to give the land free of cost and have a share in the canal water. He had to borrow money for making the payment but decided that Punjab would not be allowed to take any water from the canal.

The sources said an agreement was reportedly signed in Shimla on September 4, 1920, by HWM Eves, Secretary to the Punjab Government, Rohim Baksh, President, Regency Council Bahawalpur and Sadul Singh Rustam, representative of Bikaner estate. The agreement said Punjab would have no access to the canal waters, besides 2,000 acres around the canal. The Rajasthan Government constructed rest houses on the land and its officers had been staying at these dak bungalows during supervision duty.

Later, the maintenance of the canal was entrusted to the Punjab Government against a fixed amount which was enhanced from time to time.

There had been complaints that the Punjab Irrigation Department had not been properly maintaining the canal. Cracks had developed on both sides of the walls at several points. The Rajasthan Government repeatedly protested over the alleged bungling in funds which had been provided for maintenance of the canal.

Last year, senior officials from the Rajasthan Irrigation Department had showed a team of newspersons some permanent pumps installed by the Punjab Government to steal water from the canal. Photographs were taken and sent to the Union Government along with a complaint.

Mr Surjit Kumar Jiyani, Forest Minister, Punjab, has started another controversy by stating that water for water works at Fazilka would be drawn from the Gang canal. Reacting to this, Ms Beniwal said Punjab had no right over the canal waters. She said water was already being illegally pumped out from the canal.

Mr Jiyani said the government was requesting the Central Water Management Board to allocate water for the water works which was under construction at Fazilka. If Rajasthan tried to resist, Punjab would approach the National Human Rights Commission.Back

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