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Haryana, Punjab in blame game over floods
CHANDIGARH, JUL 11 (IANS):
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Published on 11 Jul. 2010 11:02 PM IST
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The floods in parts of Punjab and Haryana has led to a spate of angry exchanges between the two states, each accusing the other of causing the flooding on their side.
Ruling political leaders of Haryana and Punjab are accusing each other for releasing water into the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, which has led to breaches in parts of the canal causing widespread floods in both states.
The Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal was built to link the waters of the two rivers, but has left the neighbouring states completely divided.
Parts of Kurukshetra, Ambala and Kaithal districts in Haryana and Patiala, Sangrur and Fatehgarh Sahib districts in Punjab witnessed floods in the week just ended. The flooding has been due to heavy downpour causing the rivers Ghaggar and Tangri to overflow, and the SYL canal has figured prominently in making things worse.
Breaches in the SYL canal have led to flooding Haryana districts.
Haryana’s Irrigation Minister Ajay Singh Yadav said: “Areas in Haryana have been flooded mainly due to breaches in the banks of the SYL. Punjab has persistently obstructed the completion of the SYL canal, in spite of orders by the Supreme Court. Whenever there is heavy discharge in the Ghaggar river, Punjab diverts water into the SYL canal.
“Though the canal has a capacity of only 6,000 cusecs, water far in excess was diverted from Ghaggar river into it in Punjab. This led to breaches in the SYL canal in Ambala, Kurukshetra and Kaithal districts leading to floods. These were floods caused by Punjab’s action that took villagers by surprise,” he said.
Yadav continued: “Punjab does this to give relief to its own villages and farmers at the cost of Haryana. Diverting the waters of a large river like Ghaggar into Haryana by Punjab in a totally uncontrolled manner, is a mischievous act and causes huge misery in Haryana on every occasion.”
On the other hand, Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has blamed Haryana for the floods.
Badal said: “A breach in the SYL canal in Haryana’s area which overflowed into the Ghaggar river caused the flood situation in Patiala district to worsen. The closure of gates by Haryana from the Ghaggar side in Hansi-Butana canal has made the situation worse.”
However, Yadav countered the Punjab charge.
“In fact, Punjab has cut the bank of the Ghaggar protection bandh and diverted the Ghaggar water through the Hansi-Butana canal into Haryana villages. While this had been a relief for Punjab villages, it caused misery to Haryana,” Yadav added.
The SYL canal has been a controversial issue between both the states for over three decades now. Most parts of the 214-km long canal was built by Haryana in early 1990s while Punjab built only a few parts.
Nearly Rs 1,000-crore of public money has been wasted on the canal as many stretches of it have been extensively damaged in the last two decades since no water had flowed in it.
Later, leaders in Punjab took the stand that the state could not spare any more water for Haryana as it wanted to meet its own needs for irrigation.
In 2004, the Congress government in the state, led by Amarinder Singh controversially abrogated the water sharing agreement with Haryana and other states.
The case is now with the Supreme Court, following a presidential reference made to it in 2004 itself. The apex court had directed Punjab to complete its section of the SYL canal, but the state government failed to comply.
Though no water flows in the SYL canal, the project continues to be a burden on the public exchequer with over 1,500 staff and engineers continuing to draw their salaries and perks.

 
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