Punjab | Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan to pay for water

Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan to pay for water

Chandigarh: Hardening its stance against the Supreme Court’s SYL verdict, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha yesterday passed a resolution directing the state government to demand charges for river waters flowing to the non-riparian states of Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi. It asked the state to seek the Centre’s help to recover the charges.

The resolution also directed the Punjab Government, Council of Ministers and all state employees not to hand over land to any agency for the construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, allow any agency to begin work on it, or cooperate with any agency in its construction. The proposal was mooted by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

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Addressing the House, Badal said all aspects of water, including drainage, embankments, water storage and water power, fell in the State List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India. The state could not part with its waters since almost 105 blocks were water-stressed and groundwater utilisation had been overexploited, he said.“Punjab needs 52 MAF (million acre feet) water for agriculture, but only 27 per cent is presently being met from riverwaters. The once-fertile land is becoming barren because of low water availability, which will impact the food security of the nation and the state’s economy,” he said.

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The Opposition Congress MLAs, who resigned from the Assembly last week in the wake of the SC verdict rendering the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act 2004  invalid, chose to stay away from the session.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Madan Mohan Mittal proposed the resolution saying there had been instances where the state had demanded royalty and received it. Patiala, Nabha and Jind paid royalty till 1945-46 for using waters of the Sutlej, he said.

Bassi Pathana MLA Nirmal Singh said Rajasthan owed the state Rs 80,000 crore as royalty for using state waters. He did not provide any justification for the numbers.

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Simarjit Singh Bains, however, put the figure at Rs 15.34 lakh crore. On Bains’ insistence, the names of the three non-riparian states were incorporated in the resolution.