WATER ROW

2nd Ravi-Beas link forgotten

CHANDIGARH: The Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana are locked in a verbal duel on the issue of checking flow of water from India into Pakistan, that can be utilised in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

Naveen S Garewal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 9

The Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana are locked in a verbal duel on the issue of checking flow of water from India into Pakistan, that can be utilised in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

None of them is perhaps aware that instead of slugging it out amongst themselves, they need to approach the Centre, that approved creation of a second Ravi-Beas link way back in 2008 based on a concept report submitted by the Haryana Irrigation Department at an estimated cost of Rs 784 crore.

Just before his two-nation tour, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had announced that he wrote a letter to his Punjab counterpart Capt Amarinder Singh to join hands in checking flow of Ravi waters into Pakistan. The Punjab Chief Minister had denied receiving any letter.

As per the Central Water Commission (CWC) report, presented in its sixth meeting on the issue in April 2012, an estimated 32 cubic metres per second, which worked out to be about 0.58 million acre feet, was flowing into Pakistan that could be used for irrigation within India.

Haryana’s contention was that under the Indus Water Treaty, 1960, the entire water of eastern rivers — Sutlej, Ravi and Beas — had been allotted to India and western rivers — Indus, Chenab and Jhelum — to Pakistan. It termed it criminal to let Ravi waters flow into Pakistan when northern states were parched.

In October 2013, then Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda wrote a letter to Harish Rawat, then Union Minister for Water Resources, to expedite construction of a second Ravi-Beas link project, proposed by Haryana and accepted by the Centre.

The Union government had declared the link project as a national project in 2008, but there had been no progress in this regard. Punjab and Haryana had been struggling over distribution of available water, with both citing riparian laws.

As per the concept report prepared by Haryana and accepted by the Centre, the proposed canal was to pass by the western side of Amritsar and link the Ravi with the Beas upstream the Harike barrage.

Then estimated to be built at a cost of Rs 784 crore, the lines trapezoidal section type of canal was supposed to be 18 feet deep and have a length of 85 km.

To harness waters from the Ravi and the Beas, the Madhopur weir on the Ravi was converted into a barrage and the Madhopur-Beas link (first Ravi-Beas link) for 10,000 cusecs constructed during 1955-57.

Thereafter, construction of the Beas-Sutlej link and Pong Dam were taken up. Ranjit Sagar Dam and Shahpur Kandi Dam were planned and Thein Dam commissioned.

Till date, a large amount of water continued to flow into Pakistan. No water from the Ravi was being used in India after the Madhopur headworks despite five tributaries of the Ravi — Basantar, Ujh, Tarnah, Bein and Devak — joining the river after Madhopur.

On the basis of this concept paper, the Government of India had declared the second Ravi-Beas link project as a national project in February 2008.

Thereafter, it constituted a committee under the chairmanship of the Member (Design and Research), CWC, to finalise the action plan, which was notified on November 14, 2008. The committee held six meetings till April 2012.

On April 30, 2013, Hooda wrote a letter to the CWC Chairman, asking him to speed up work on the proposed project. In response, the CWC wrote in August 2013, saying it had finalised the proposal in its sixth meeting.

Hooda had written a letter to the then Punjab Chief Minister to chalk out the further course of action, but Haryana had not received any reply from Punjab on the subject till date.

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