Tuesday, May 27, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



In defence of Punjab’s riparian rights

APROPOS of Mr Ram Verma’s article “Resolution of SYL dispute” (April 26), Punjab, a riparian state, is sought to be named guilty in regard to the distribution of river waters flowing through its territory. To say that the riparian rights are applicable to nation-states and are not relevant in a country is not tenable. Our Constitution recognises the riparian rights of the constituent states.

Water is a state subject. Entry 17 of the Seventh Schedule — State List (List III) reads as “water, that is to say, water supplies, irrigation and canals, drainage and embankments and storages subject to the provisions of Entry 56 of List I.”

As regards the proposed inter-linking of major rivers, the scheme will not affect the rights of the riparian States. It aims at utilising the water of surplus basins in the areas of deficit basins.

Punjab has been generous to part with and share the waters of the Sutlej. Haryana and Rajasthan are deriving huge benefits from this. The problem at present is regarding the distribution of the Ravi-Beas waters. The quantum of the Ravi-Beas waters was assessed to be 18.98 MAF (million acre feet). Making a deduction of 3.13 MAF, pre-partition utilisation, the balance, termed as “Surplus Ravi Beas waters”, works out to be 15.85 MAF. As per the inter-State decision of 1955, the distribution of these waters was made as under — Punjab (5.90 MAF), Pepsu (1.30), Rajasthan (8), and Jammu and Kashmir (0.65).


After the merger of Pepsu with Punjab in 1956, the share of composite Punjab came to be 7.20 MAF. This distribution was intended to show to the World Bank making negotiations under the Indus Waters Treaty for full utilistion of the waters. The allocation of 8 MAF to Rajasthan, which is not a riparian State, is unjustified.

In any distribution of waters, the Yamuna waters should form a part of the divisible pool. Prior to its re-organisation in 1966, the erstwhile Punjab included the present Haryana. As such it (the present Punjab) is entitled to a share of the Yamuna waters. The divisible pool of waters of the Yamuna, the Ravi and the Beas is to be distributed on the basis of the riparian rights and the principles of equity, fairplay and natural justice.

A review petition has now been filed by the Punjab Government before the Supreme Court for adjudication regarding the distribution of waters and for discharging Punjab from the liability of construction of SYL. A final distribution of waters is yet to be decided upon.

G.R. Kalra, Chief Engineer (retd), Chandigarh


The article in question does not examine Punjab’s case properly. Of the total annual average flow of the Indus River System of 200 MAF, under the Indus Treaty of 1961, India got 34.8 MAF water while 15.85 MAF became available for distribution in 1971 when the treaty came into force.

Of 15.85 MAF, 8 MAF was allocated to Rajasthan and 7 MAF for distribution between Haryana and Punjab. This water flows through the Beas and the Ravi and so normally available at Madhopur Head Works (HW) and the Harikee Barrage. But the water level did not permit the utilisation of water by Haryana. As a result, the Beas-Sutlej link project was built, which made available 3.5 MAF water at Nangal Pond, which got diverted from the Beas at Pandoh.

Haryana wants the entire 3.5 MAF to be diverted through the SYL, but Punjab is opposing this as water is being utilised at Ropar HW into the Bist-Doab Canal and the Sirhind Canal areas. At present, Haryana is getting 1.67 MAF of the water through the Narwana Branch canal and also 0.2 MAF is delivered to the Delhi area, leaving only 1.63 MAF to Punjab. If the SYL is built and Punjab is deprived of this water, the canal’s offtake from Ropar would suffer and the Ropar HW cannot get water from either Harikee or Madhopur due to difference in water levels. Consequently, it would be unfair to rob Peter to pay Paul.

Dr G.S. Dhillon, Former Chief Engineer (Research) and Director (Irrigation & Power), Chandigarh


Fewer jobs for engineers

THE report “Jobs for engineering students limited” (May 6) is alarming. I do not know why state governments are going on increasing the seats in the engineering institutions when more than 40,000 trained engineering graduates are unemployed. The situation is indeed grim for fresh graduates who, after spending lot of money and prime time, are getting enrolled in the employment exchanges. There are already 5.21 lakh graduates registered in these exchanges for jobs!

Admittedly, the need of the hour is improvement in the quality of education being imparted to the students — technical and non-technical. Education should be work-oriented instead of being bookish. The government should encourage the students by creating more job opportunities, providing financial assistance to set up their own work places, and sanctioning reasonable stipend to pursue higher studies. More important, the qualified engineers should not be barred from competing in the Civil Services examination.

R. S. Kanwar, Panchkula

Make cycling a habit

With each passing day, the habit of walking is on the decline. The people of hilly regions are dependent on buses and other modes of transport. Gone are the days when they used to walk 8-10 km every day.

In the plains, if a person is to fetch milk, vegetables, cigarettes or any other item, he/she invariably uses a bike. Cycling has become a thing of the past. According to a survey done by me, most people don’t have cycles at all. School and college students roaming aimlessly on motor bikes is a common sight. I am afraid, the day is not far off when our limbs won’t have any strength left and would ultimately cease to function.

Men and women should come forward in making cycling a daily habit. This would make our limbs strong as also help reduce the burden on the country’s foreign exchange for the purchase of petrol.

V.K. Sharma, Shimla

Double standards

Trade unions sponsored by the Left and bank employees’ federations of all colours and hues organised a strike on May 21. They swear to be the Messiah of people. Indeed, ‘people’ and ‘public interest” are their watchwords. Unfortunately, however, they follow double standards.

On account of the strike, tens of thousands of people including men, women and children were stranded at railway platforms, bus stands and various other odd places in the scorching heat?

Ram Saran Bhatia, Faridabad

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