M A I N   N E W S

Punjab played mischief, Haryana tells Centre
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Haryana is continuing with its campaign to convince the Centre that the recent floods in the state were “made by Punjab”. While the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, took up the issue at the political level when he met the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, in Delhi yesterday, senior officers of the state are raising the matter at the administrative level.

According to reliable sources, the Chief Secretary, Mr Sunil Ahuja, yesterday wrote to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Water Resources, Mr V.K. Duggal, urging him to intervene and stop the authorities in Punjab from using the SYL canal and the Narwana branch of the Bhakra system to drain out flood waters from their state to Haryana.

Mr Ahuja said this practice had led to a serious flood situation in certain parts of Haryana, notably Ambala, Kurukshetra and Kaithal districts where several villages were under water.

He also alleged that the situation had been further compounded by making of cuts and punctures in the SYL canal and the Narwana branch by the Punjab authorities. In support of his allegation, Mr Ahuja said the Narwana branch was cut at RD-155000 and at two other places between RD-145000 and RD-155000. As a result of this, since the canals had to carry water far in excess of their capacity, they breached at a number of places in Haryana.

Mr Ahuja informed Mr Duggal that it was for the first time in 50 years that such damage to the Narwana branch had been witnessed. He said “the strain put on the administration and the overall distress is something which cannot be quantified”.

Haryana’s Financial Commissioner and Principal Secretary, Irrigation, Mr Anil Razdan, sent a four-page letter to Mr R. Jeyaseelan, Chairman of the Central Water Commission, yesterday to highlight “the grave and unethical practice” adopted by the authorities in Punjab in using the SYL canal and the Narwana branch to divert flood waters from that state to Haryana.

He went on to allege that “through this mischief, the areas in Haryana territory adjoining Punjab have suffered damage of crores of rupees besides danger to human life and disruption of communication. He pointed out that these canals had also been seriously damaged downstream of Punjab border as a result of “the uncontrolled diversion of flood waters well beyond the designed capacity of the canals”. He alleged that “by this illegal act, the authorities in Punjab have transferred their flood waters to Haryana”. He also pointed out that the irrigation canals were not designed to carry flood waters or act as drains. “If they are unauthorisedly used as drains, the structures will not only be damaged, their future use is also endangered.”

Mr Razdan informed Mr Jeyaseelan that unless the repairs of the canals was undertaken on war footing, many districts of Haryana would suffer for lack of water supply for irrigation and drinking. “Instead of implementing the orders of the Supreme Court to complete the SYL canal within one year from January, 2002, or handing over the same to the Union Government, the authorities in Punjab have sought to bring sorrow and misery in Haryana instead of succour,” Mr Razdan regretted, adding that “this trend of intransigence does not augur well for other interstate irrigation systems in the country.”

The Haryana officer said it was “interesting to note that the only breaches which have been reported over the last two days in respect of canals in Punjab are these two canals. This cannot be a mere coincidence.

Meanwhile, a three-member team of the Central Water Commission, led by its Director, Mr R.R. Sharma, today visited the flood-affected areas of Haryana to take stock of the situation.


Chautala’s allegations absurd, says Amarinder
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 6
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today said the allegations levelled by his Haryana counterpart about Punjab causing floods in the neighbouring state were “absurd and baseless.”

The Chief Minister, who was in the Capital, said the allegations were made by Mr Om Prakash Chautala to divert attention of the people of Haryana from the failures of his government. “This is Mr Chautala’s style of politics,” he said.

Mr Amarinder Singh said Mr Chautala told “lies” to the Prime Minister in his meeting yesterday. “Why will Punjab cause breaches in the canals in its own territory. The breaches were natural,” he said. The Chief Minister said 252 villages in Punjab were affected by floods and 11 persons were killed.

To a question, the Chief Minister said the Prime Minister had not spoken to him following Mr Chautala’s complaint. “The Prime Minister knows the facts,” Mr Amarinder Singh said.

Asked about Congress president Sonia Gandhi denying him an audience, the Chief Minister said he would meet her whenever called.

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