PUNJAB EKTA Party (PEP) president Sukhpal Khaira on Wednesday urged Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh to “wake up” to the issue of “excess flow” of river water to Pakistan while the state’s canals are running dry.
He further said that extreme shortage of canal water in June, when the heat is at its peak, has created massive resentment among the state’s farmers, leading to protests at district headquarters of Mansa and Barnala. He also claimed that residents of Malwa are facing drinking water shortage.
Addressing a press conference here in Chandigarh Wednesday, Khaira said he had visited the Harike Headworks a couple of days ago and found that approximately 15,000-20,000 cusecs of river water were being diverted to Pakistan daily.
He urged the CM, who is also the state irrigation minister, to immediately stop the excess flow of water to Pakistan and instead use the same for irrigation so that farmers can water their crop and prepare for paddy sowing season.
Khaira said it was “highly unusual” to release such huge amounts of water in June, when there is no threat of rising water levels in the Bhakra dam reservoir. “While our precious river waters are flowing to Pakistan, the main canals and distributaries are running completely dry, further adding to the woes of farmers and ordinary people. It is a matter of record that there is no water for irrigation in the main canals of Bist Doab canal and UBDC (Upper Bari Doab Canal) catering to the needs of farmers of Doaba and Majha respectively,” he added.
“The eastern canal that has a capacity of 3,000 cusecs for Ferozpur and Muktsar districts is totally dry. Similarly, the Golewala minor (canal) and other small distributaries in Faridkot are completely dry, Ladu Wala minor with 500 cusecs is also dry, Lachman canal along the Pakistan border with 250 cusec capacity is also dry, Boha Rajwaha with 250 cusecs capacity has no water, Bathinda canal with 2,300 cusecs capacity is supplying only 250 cusecs, Faridkot canal with 600 cusecs capacity is also dry,” he added.
The PEP president said that “surprisingly the Rajasthan feeder and Gang canal having a capacity of 9,000 cusecs and 2500 cusecs respectively, are overflowing with much more water than their capacity. Why are canals of Punjab dry and so much of excess water is flowing to Rajasthan?” he asked.
“Punjab already stands badly discriminated and cheated of its legitimate river waters by the Government of India, that allocated its precious waters to Rajasthan and Haryana by throwing to winds the international riparian laws and the Constitution of India. It is common knowledge that Rajasthan alone owes Punjab Rs 16 lac crore for its waters that have illegitimately and unconstitutionally flown during the last many decades, as per the estimates of agriculture experts of PAU Ludhiana,” he further said.
Khaira said there is every possibility that by allowing such large water flow to Pakistan, the Government of India “may be creating a record of excess river water against Punjab to be misused in the pending multiple litigations in the Supreme Court”.