Following Supreme Court’s directive to Centre to sort out water sharing dispute between Punjab and Haryana, Punjab is now of the view that it would stake claim on Yamuna waters if the state was pressured to share water with Haryana. Sources in the government said during two meetings with representatives of Haryana government in the past one month, Punjab stuck to its old stand that it did not have a drop to spare. Also, it reiterated the need for a fresh Tribunal to assess the availability of water.
Sources said state’s Haryana counterpart is also learnt to have raised its demand that Punjab should at least construct the remaining part of Sutlej Yamuna Link canal and the division of water could be dealt with later. But Punjab, on the other hand, is of the opinion that if the state does not have a drop to share then why should money be wasted on completing a canal.
Also, the state offered a plea that when SYL was being constructed earlier, the work on it was stopped as a Chief Engineer M L Sekhri and a Superintending Engineer Avtar Singh Aulakh were killed by militants in 1990. In two different violent incidents labourers were shot dead in Majat village near Chunn and Bharatgarh near Ropar. The construction had then stopped.
Haryana is also learnt to have raised that if spare water could be allowed to flow to Pakistan then why could Punjab not share it with its neighbouring state instead. Both the meetings, a government functionary said, took place in a pleasant environment. Punjab argued that if Haryana is staking claim on water on the plea that it was also a part of Punjab before reorganisation in 1966, then Haryana should also share Yamuna waters. Haryana was drawing 4.65 MAF through Yamuna. Punjab has argued that by Haryana’s argument, 60 per cent of Yamuna water too should be shared with Punjab.
Amarinder meets Jal Shakti Minister
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was in Delhi on Monday and met Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat , a day before the case comes up for hearing in SC. However, Punjab government statement quoting Amarinder said that the issue was not discussed in the meeting and the CM had instead sought a comprehensive mechanism from the Centre to check recurrence of floods, which was causing the state to suffer damage to the tune of crores of rupees every year.
The statement added that Amarinder had apprised the Union Minister of the ravages caused by the floods to the state, which was not in a position to bear the losses year after year. The Chief Minister said he had suggested to the Union Minister various measures like de-silting, and creation of water reservoirs. “It is now up to the Ministry to find ways and means to avert such crisis in the future,” he added.
His government’s top priority in the wake of the recent floods was to save lives, said the statement quoting Chief Minister.