With the Haryana-Punjab water dispute echoing at the 29th Northern Zonal Council meeting chaired by him, Union Home Minister Amit Shah Friday said all states should rise above politics to resolve the “critical issue” of water shortage.
According to a Haryana government release, Shah also put the larger onus of resolving the dispute on Punjab, describing it as Haryana’s “elder brother”. “The shortage of water has become a critical issue in almost all states of the country in one way or the other and to resolve it, the states have to work in tandem by rising above the political considerations,” the Haryana government statement quoted Shah as saying.
“Being an elder brother, Punjab should adopt a positive approach for resolving the pending water disputes with Haryana,” the release added.
Shah’s reaction came after Khattar claimed that his state was being denied its full share of Ravi-Beas water by Punjab, which, in turn, asserted that it has no surplus water to share.
Earlier, raising the issue in the NZC meeting here, Khattar described Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal as the lifeline of Haryana. He said his state was facing acute water stress as against the demand of 36 million acre-feet, it has only 14.7 MAF of water available with it.
NZC vice chairman and the meet host, Khattar said Haryana, in compliance with the Supreme Court’s orders, is giving extra water to Delhi from its own share of Yamuna waters, but Punjab is not delivering his state’s full share of the Ravi-Beas waters. “The water supply from Yamuna has been dwindling over recent years and it is most unfortunate that more than one thousand villages in Haryana and millions of hectares of the state land are bereft of water,” a state government statement quoted Khattar as asserting in the NZC meet.
The proceeding of the meet was not open to the media.
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, however, asserted that his state has no surplus water, and expressed concern over the water crisis faced by states amid their depleting groundwater and sought cooperation among them for conserving it.
“Shared my deep concern with the NZC about the growing water crisis in all States, especially regarding the depletion of groundwater. While Punjab has no surplus river water to share, we must cooperate to improve water-use efficiency to conserve our most precious resource,” Amarinder said in a tweet.
During the meeting, Amarinder urged Shah to deal with the inter-state water issue separately for its early resolution as the matter was already sub-judice.
The SYL has been a contentious issue between Punjab and Haryana since long.
Punjab has been maintaining that the quantum of water flowing through the Ravi and Beas rivers has come down considerably, requiring a reassessment of the water volume.
Haryana has been stressing upon the completion of the SYL canal to get its share of river waters and asserting that Punjab should comply with the 2002 and 2004 Supreme Court orders.