New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) With the Supreme Court closely monitoring developments on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, the Punjab government on Thursday apprised the Centre of the critical water situation in the state to stress its inability to share water with its neighbouring states.
The Punjab government has urged the Narendra Modi government at the Centre to intervene in the SYL canal matter “to save Punjab from an ecological disaster”.
Punjab Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh and other senior officers met Union Ministry of Water Resources Secretary Amarjit Singh here to convey Punjab’s stand on the SYL issue, which is currently pending in the Supreme Court.
The case is next scheduled to come up for hearing in the apex court on April 27.
At the last hearing, the central government had sought deferment in view of the April 20 meeting convened by it to resolve the issue festering between Haryana and Punjab for the past several decades. The Supreme Court, in November last year, had ruled in favour of Haryana on the water sharing issue through SYL canal.
The newly installed Congress government in Punjab had also sought time from the Supreme Court to prepare its case.
The Punjab government has urged the Centre “to take steps to prevent monsoon run-off to Pakistan and ensure that every extra drop of water is allowed to be used by Punjab”, a Punjab government spokesperson said.
Pointing out that Punjab did not have surplus water to share, the delegation urged the central government to come up with a realistic solution to the problem, keeping the state’s water scarcity in view.
“With only 28 per cent of its land canal-irrigated and the rest dependent on tubewells, Punjab was in urgent need of expansion of its canal system to prevent the water crisis in the state from aggravating to devastating levels,” the delegation told the Union Secretary.
Pointing to the alarming decline in ground water table in the state, the delegation noted that the state was losing 12 MAF (million acre feet) of ground water every year, leading to a huge stress on the ground water system.
“In fact, 100 of a total of 138 blocks had been rendered `dark blocks’ as a result of over-exploitation of underground water to sustain agriculture. Of these, 45 had further been declared `critical’ by the central government,” it was pointed out.
The delegation further noted that the sub-soil of the southern Punjab region was brackish and the people were dependent on canal water even for their drinking needs. Construction of the SYL canal would lead to an estimated 10 lakh acres of land in the region going dry, they further told the central government.
The Union Water Resource Ministry later met a delegation of the Haryana government to take their views on the issue.