AMID INLD protest on SYL canal issue in Haryana, farmer unions in Punjab accused political parties in both states of milking the issue for votes. Farmers also questioned work done in both states on rain water harvesting and ground water recharge. Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary of Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan), said, “Nearly 28 per cent of Punjab is irrigated by canal water, while rest of the area is irrigated by ground water. It is strange that political parties in Punjab as well as Haryana shout a lot about this issue, but none talks about efforts to recharge ground water and rain water which are the main source of irrigation.”
Accusing parties of double speak, he added: “…paddy cultivation is a major contributor (to water shortage). However, farmers were given free demonstrations, seeds etc during green revolution to grow paddy, and now it has affected ground water. But all talk is about SYL causing water shortage. So in a way, it is double speak by political parties to cause tension among farmers of Haryana and Punjab.” He went on to say that the his union believed that “Haryana can be given little more water than the existing share from the already flowing canals and hence there is no need for SYL”.
However, Buta Singh Burjgill, president of Bharti Kisan Union (Dakaunda), disagreed. “Punjab is short of water and we cannot share even a drop of water with the neighbouring state. We agree with this statement of Punjab political parties. However, they need to work on ways to reduce this water shortage….We are ready to shift to basmati crop which needs 25 per cent of the water needed by paddy crop and at the same time, we can also grow potato in between. However, we need MSP for both crops so as to switch. This will solve Punjab’s water shortage and even the water war can be solved.”
He too said that SYL issue was being used to make farmers in both states fight among each other. Shingaara Singh Maan, president of BKU(Ugrahan) added, “At the moment talk is about 28 per cent canal water and not about 72 per cent of ground water as source of irrigation. The topic needs to be widened beyond SYL canal politics, so as to end this water shortage in the state.”