Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 18
Sounding a note of caution to the Union Government on the SYL issue that “has the potential to disturb the nation’s security”, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Tuesday reiterated the need for a tribunal to make a fresh time-bound assessment of water availability. He sought a complete share of water for Punjab from the total available resources, including the Yamuna.
In a video-conference with Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Capt Amarinder Singh said: “You have to look at the issue from the national security perspective. If you decide to go ahead with the SYL canal, Punjab will burn and it will become a national problem, with Haryana and Rajasthan also suffering the impact.”
He said Punjab had a right to Yamuna water, in which it did not get a share at the time of 60:40 division of assets with Haryana in 1966, even as he expressed his willingness to sit across the table with his Haryana counterpart to discuss the “emotive” issue.
He also suggested that Rajasthan should be involved in the discussions on the water issue as it was also a stakeholder. He described the meeting as “positive and cordial” and said the Union Minister seemed to understand Punjab’s viewpoint.
Punjab remains at risk from all sides, said Capt Amarinder, pointing to Pakistan’s continued attempts to foment trouble and to try and revive the separatist movement through the banned Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) organisation. The water issue could further destabilise the state, he warned.
It was decided during the meeting that the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana would meet in Chandigarh on a date to be fixed later for further talks on the issue and would then go to the Union Minister again. Putting forth Punjab’s stand, Captain Amarinder said it was necessary to set up a tribunal for fair adjudication of the water availability.
Noting that there had, in fact, been no adjudication or scientific assessment of available Punjab river waters till date, the Chief Minister said the BBMB had reported that the availability of the Ravi-Beas water had come down from the estimated 17.17 million acre feet (MAF) in 1981 to 13.38 MAF in 2013.
Despite being a non-basin state and having a smaller population as well as lesser cultivated land area, Haryana’s total availability of river water stood at 12.48 MAF as against Punjab’s 12.42 MAF, he noted.
“As of today, Punjab is a deficit state and could not be asked to transfer water to Haryana,” he said.
The Chief Minister recalled that he had suggested the construction of water storage dams in Himachal Pradesh for collecting water so that the flow of water into Pakistan could be checked. He urged the Union Minister to consider the suggestion.
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