Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal: In parched Haryana villages, an endless wait for canal water

Haryana Irrigation Minister O P Dhankar said: “The problem of water shortage is more acute in southern parts of Haryana, including Mahendragarh, Rewari, Bhiwani and Mewat. "

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | Rewari | Updated: March 21, 2016 11:30 am
syl, syl canal, syl canal dispute, punjab, punjab canal, punjab haryana canal, haryana canal, sutlej yamuna link, sutlej yamuna link canal, satluj yamuna link canal, syl canal issue, punjab news, haryana news, india news The state is divided into five zones and each is being given water after 32 days for a period of eight days.

At Kheda Murar, a village about 13 km from Rewari town, I R Sharma tills his three-acre farm from “monsoon to monsoon”. “There is no point incurring heavy input costs during the dry season as return will be either low or in the negative,” said the 80-year-old farmer.

Two canals cut through the village. For the past one month they have been dry. What Sharma, being a retired armyman earning a pension, can afford, Udmi Gujjar cannot. The 65-year-old farmer is totally dependent on agriculture and is worried about his wheat crop due to lack of water. “Farming here is largely dependent on God. The canal has regular water only when it rains,” said Gujjar.

Read — Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal issue: Field of dreams

As Haryana and Punjab continue their slugfest over the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, the endless wait for water is routine in villages of Rewari-Narnaul belt. The stretch is one of the driest in Haryana. While canals — if a village is lucky to have it — have irregular flow, water table have been going down steadily. It is also at the far end of the SYL canal chain where Haryana government hopes to provide water once the main channel is built and operationalised.

Dhara Singh, the village sarpanch, was a schoolboy when he had first heard of the canal. He is 47 now. “We were told there would be plenty of water. But our fields are still dry while streets are filled with water,” said Singh, pointing to the sewage that has flooded the lanes.

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“Over the years the village has only become poorer. With water table going down, one has to dig deeper. That incurs heavier cost even as crop prices remain stable,” he added. This is one reason why no one grows water-intensive paddy here.

Kheda Murar is a large village with 600 families, almost all dependent on agriculture. It is also located at the end of the water channel and “so gets less water”.
Those who can afford have set up tubewells but power supply, too, is erratic. Badlu Ram, 65, irrigates his fields with the help of a tubewell. “It’s an expensive affair; not reliable, as power is irregular. Electricity cost is also high. But we cannot depend on the canal water. I have lost many a crop waiting for water. So I got this tubewell. I had to go over 100 feet deep. Earlier water was available at 40 feet,” he said.

He is still lucky. The canal flowing through the area has helped raise the water table. In villages such as Manglesar Majri, near Kheda Murar but away from the canal, one has to dig 250 feet to find water.

Sharma isn’t hopeful that the SYL canal will “ever come”. “It’s an NDA government in Haryana, Punjab and at the Centre. If the canal can’t still be built, who do we blame,” he asked.

Haryana Irrigation Minister O P Dhankar said: “The problem of water shortage is more acute in southern parts of Haryana, including Mahendragarh, Rewari, Bhiwani and Mewat. The state is divided into five zones and each is being given water after 32 days for a period of eight days. The storage capacity of tanks is not sufficient. This is leading to acute shortage of even drinking water…Once we start getting additional water from SYL the problems would ease out…”

Irrigation department’s Engineer-in-Chief AK Gupta pointed out that of 3.5 million-acre feet (MAF) water to be received from Ravi-Beas, only 1.6 MAF was being received at present. He said additional water, as and when received through the SYL, will be sent to these areas.

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  1. G
    Mar 21, 2016 at 4:40 am
    Very true! But the same situations start developing in punjab once the water which is already is being used for irrigation is diverted to haryana via SYL canal. And also just try to do some research that how congress under Indira hi forced punjab congress chief minister in 1981 to withdraw Punjab' peion in the Supreme court against the award of river wates to Haryana and forced Punjab congress chief minister to sign agreement to give Punjab waters to Haryana. supreme court in the present case is going to give verdict against Punjab because Punjab had signed that agreement and Haryana is claiming it on the basis of this agreement. Otherwise no court in any other part of the world will entertain Haryana ' s claim because these rivers do not flow through its territory
    1. M
      Mohan bhagwat
      Mar 21, 2016 at 12:50 am
      Haryana should ask water from Rajasthan who is enjoying nearly half of Punjab and Haryana water and Rajasthan doesn't even have any right on that water. Media should tell world how India is trying to favor Rajasthan and Haryana while destroying Punjab.
      1. J
        Mar 21, 2016 at 12:30 am
        Can you now take time to visit punjab villages and provide story on thier situation also. All media coverage is against punjab. Why not give fact based story from start of the issue in 50's, when rajasthan got half of punjab's water. Why only share punjab's resource and lets all the minerals from other states put in national pool and share among states.
        1. Karimul Fateh
          Mar 21, 2016 at 2:01 pm
          Shared resources?? What about Yamuna water? Why Yamuna water is not part of that shared resources? Haryana planned the SYL Canal to carry 5 MAF of waters after 1966 and got the Project approved from the Central Government. As it was a post-1966 Project to carry Punjab waters and there was no reference or mention of it even in the unconsutional provisions of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, the Punjab government naturally objected to the scheme, the same being violates the statutory rights of Punjab under the Consution. But the Centre utilised its powers of decision under Sections 78 of the Reorganisation Act, although even the 1966 Act (itself considered unconsutional) does not mention the SYL Canal or any other scheme of a non-riparian state, whether Haryana or Rajasthan. Accordingly, Punjab suggested that the only way to solve the consutional problem was to refer the issue to the consutional Bench of the Supreme Court for decision, which would be obligatory for the States to follow, and which no State could object to. Punjab's contention is that Sections 78 to 80 of the P.R. Act are not only violative of Entry 17 of the State List of the Consution, clearly indicating ‘water power' and ‘irrigation' to be state subjects, and of Articles 162 and 246(3) of the Consution, but are also discriminatory under the Equality Article 14 of the Consution in so far as it gives all the Jamuna waters to the Haryana, but provides for the distribution of the Punjab river waters flowing in the Punjab territory to non-riparian states. Hence, the argument has been that the only solution of the water and hydel power dispute has to be a reference to the Supreme Court for its consutional verdict.
          1. M
            Manoj Kumar
            Mar 22, 2016 at 6:58 pm
            Four or five times in affected areas
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