Even as Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Tuesday demanded completion of the construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal (SYL) canal in the Punjab region, his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Singh Mann said Satluj river has already dried up and there was no question of sharing even a single drop of water from it.
Speaking at the 31st meeting of the Northern Zonal Council (NZC) meeting chaired by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Mann said the state has no spare water to share with any other state so instead of the SYL canal, the project should be now conceived as Yamuna Sutlej Link (YSL) and water from Ganga and Yamuna should be supplied to Punjab through Satluj river.
Khattar, however, said water availability and canal construction were distinct issues and should not be conflated. He said surplus water from rivers such as Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas currently flowed into Pakistan, and constructing SYL would enable the productive utilisation of this valuable water resource.
The Haryana CM highlighted the importance of SYL as an alternative channel, especially in light of the aging Nangal Hydel Channel (NHC).
The Punjab CM, however, said the SYL canal is a highly ’emotive issue’ for Punjab and construction of this canal will lead to serious law and order issues and it will become a national problem, with Haryana and Rajasthan also suffering the impact.
He said Punjab has no surplus water to share with Haryana and assessment of the availability of water is required as per international norms adding that setting up a new Tribunal as per new Terms of reference and changed circumstances including Yamuna waters is the only solution of the water Dispute.
Mann said Punjab’s 76.5 per cent blocks (117 out of 153) are over-exploited where the stage of groundwater extraction is more than 100 per cebt, whereas in Haryana only 61.5 per cent (88 out of 143) are over-exploited.
The Punjab CM said river Yamuna like rivers Ravi and Beas also flowed through the erstwhile state of Punjab before re-organisation but while apportioning the river waters, between Punjab and Haryana, Yamuna waters were not considered, whereas, Ravi and Beas waters were duly taken into account for the apportionment.
He said the state has been requesting for its association in negotiations for the allocation of Yamuna waters, but our request has not been considered on the ground that no geographical area of Punjab falls in the Yamuna basin.
Mann said Haryana is not the basin state of the rivers Ravi and Beas, but Punjab is forced to share waters of these rivers with Haryana adding that if Haryana gets Ravi-Beas waters being a successor State of Punjab, on the same analogy, Yamuna waters should also be shared with Punjab being a successor State.
Firmly pleading for utilisation of the discharge of River Ujh and Ravi going waste to Pakistan, the Chief Minister said that the state had proposed long back to stop this water by constructing a barrage across River Ravi just downstream to the confluence point of River Ujh with River Ravi at Makaura Pattan which is within four kilometers from Indo-Pak border.