A public interest litigation filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday has sought a compensation of Rs 80,000 crore to Punjab for supplying water to Haryana and Rajasthan for free for the past 71 years. The PIL seeks setting up of an independent authority for calculating the costs for supply of water to Haryana, Chandigarh, Rajasthan and Delhi.
The PIL was filed by 19 persons, including MP Dr Dharamvir Gandhi and former High Court judge Justice Ajit Singh Bains. It has sought quashing of the 1995 Government of India decision to allocate the river water of Punjab to Rajasthan and other non-riparian states.
Stating that the Punjab government has the complete authority to make a decision regarding its management of river water only in consultation with the riparian states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, the PIL filed through advocate R S Bains has said the issue has remained pending despite a number of litigations and Punjab is the only state in the world made to share its water to non-riparian states.
“Since independence, more than 50 per cent of the river waters of Punjab is being given to Rajasthan without any payment or cost despite a categorical decision taken that the allocation of cost of water shall be taken up separately. Rajasthan is not even the successor of the erstwhile state of Punjab,” the plea reads.
The petitioners in the plea have said that Punjab is deficient of water and even the groundwater stands depleted in at least 14 lakh tube wells. “It is shocking that practically 72.56 per cent of the total water go to two non-riparian states [Haryana and Rajasthan] without payment of a single rupee to the owner of the waters, which is Punjab state,” the plea reads.