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Punjab today urged the Narendra Modi government to intervene in the SYL matter to save the state from an "ecological disaster", after it apprised the Centre of the "critical water situation" it was grappled with and its inability to share waters with neighbouring states. Punjab also pointed out that it does not have surplus water to share with any other state and urged the central government to come up with a "realistic" solution to the problem, keeping it's water scarcity in view. These views were expressed by an official delegation comprising chief secretary Karan Avtar Singh and Principal Secretary (Irrigation) KBS Sidhu, who met up with Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Amarjit Singh, that conveyed its stand on the Satlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue. Punjab and Haryana are locked in a dispute over the sharing of Ravi-Beas waters for decades.
While Haryana wants its share, as was decided when the state was carved out of Punjab along with Himachal Pradesh 50 years ago, successive Punjab governments have refused to share water. The dispute on SYL is currently pending in the Supreme Court where the case will come up for next hearing on April 27. During 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 new Punjab government has also sought time from the Supreme Court to prepare its case. The Union Water Resource Ministry later met a delegation of the Haryana government to take their views on the issue. At today's hour-long meeting, the state government 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, said an official spokesperson. The delegation claimed that 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" from aggravating. Responding to the Union Water Resources Secretary's suggestion to initiate strong water conservation measures to counter the problem, the delegation said all possible measures were already being taken but the situation warranted extraordinary measures. The Punjab government suggested lining of the canals in the state to boost the irrigation flow. Pointing to the alarming decline in ground water table in the state, the delegation noted that the state was losing 12 MAF of ground water every year, leading to a huge stress on the ground water system. 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 SYL would lead to an estimated 10 lakh acres of land in the region going dry, they further told the central government.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)