Chandigarh, Aug 18 (PTI) Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Tuesday that there had been no scientific assessment of the available river waters in Punjab till date, pitching for setting up of a tribunal for fair adjudication of it.
He stated this during a video conference with Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Shekhawat and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar over the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal issue.
Singh said it was necessary to set up a tribunal for fair adjudication of the water availability. He pointed out that the water sharing proposed by Eradi Commission was 40 years old, while international norms require a review every 25 years to ascertain the status.
In fact, there have been no adjudication or scientific assessment of available Punjab river waters till date, a statement quoted Singh as saying.
The chief minister said the Bhakra Beas Management Board had reported that availability of Ravi-Beas water had come down from the estimated 17.17 million acre-feet in 1981 to 13.38 million ac-ft in 2013.
Despite being a non-basin state, having a smaller population and lesser cultivated land area, Haryana's total availability of river water stood at 12.48 million ac-ft against Punjab's 12.42 million ac-ft, Singh said.
He pointed out that the trans-basin transfer of water could only be allowed from a surplus basis to a deficit basis and, 'as of today, Punjab is a deficit state and could not therefore be asked to transfer water to Haryana'.
The chief minister said he had taken a concerted decision to terminate all water agreements back in 2004 to 'save' Punjab from burning, amid reports that violence could erupt in the state in protest.
The situation had aggravated since then, he said, adding that 109 of the state's 128 blocks had officially been declared 'dark zones'.
Pointing to the melting glaciers, he urged the central government to take the climate change effects into account.
The situation is 'likely to worsen' with China constructing dams in their territory, Singh warned, adding that this would lead to water shortage even in the Sutlej.
'Why would I not agree to give water if we had it?' Singh asked, adding that certain areas of south Haryana were, in fact, part of the erstwhile Patiala estate and he personally had special love for the region.
Singh recalled that he had suggested construction of water storage dams in Himachal Pradesh for collecting water so that the flow of water into Pakistan could be checked.
He urged Shekhawat to consider the suggestion and also suggested that Rajasthan be involved in discussions on the SYL Canal/Ravi-Beas waters issue as it was also a stakeholder.
Punjab has been demanding reassessment of the Ravi-Beas river waters' volume, while Haryana has been seeking completion of the SYL canal to get its share of 3.5 million ac-ft of the river waters. PTI CHS SUN VSD HMB