In news- Recently, the Haryana Legislative assembly has passed a resolution seeking completion of the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal, bringing back into focus the contentious issue of sharing of river waters between Haryana and Punjab.
History of SYL Canal-
- The Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal running about 121 km in Punjab and 90 km in Haryana envisages conveying 3.45 Million Acre-Feet (MAF) out of 3.5 MAF of Haryana’s average annual share of surplus Ravi-Beas waters ( as per 1981 agreement).
- The Haryana portion of the canal is complete and the Punjab portion of the canal was targeted for completion by March 1991.
- The issue dates back to 1966 at the time of reorganization of Punjab and formation of Haryana.
- Punjab was opposed to sharing the waters of the two rivers with Haryana, citing riparian principles.
- A decade before the formation of Haryana, the water flowing down Ravi and Beas was assessed at 15.85 MAF per year.
- The Union government had organized a meeting in 1955 between the three stake-holders — Rajasthan, undivided Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir — and allotted 8 MAF per year to Rajasthan, 7.20 MAF to undivided Punjab and 0.65 MAF to J&K.
- A decade after reorganization, the Centre issued a notification allocating 3.5 MAF to Haryana out of the 7.2 MAF allotted to Punjab before reorganization.
- In a reassessment in 1981, the water flowing down Beas and Ravi was estimated at 17.17 MAF, of which 4.22 MAF was allocated to Punjab, 3.5 MAF to Haryana, and 8.6 MAF to Rajasthan.
- In 1982, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi launched the construction of the SYL Canal , however it was stopped due to protest by Akhalidal and the government agreed for a new tribunal.
- The Eradi Tribunal headed by Supreme Court Judge V Balakrishna Eradi was set up to reassess availability and sharing of water.
- In 1987, the tribunal recommended an increase in the shares of Punjab and Haryana to 5 MAF and 3.83 MAF, respectively. This move also led to militancy and killing of parties involved in signing the accord.
- The construction came to a halt and in the backdrop of these incidents, Punjab leaders have been cautioning the Centre not to rake up the issue again.
Arguments of Punjab & Haryana-
- As per a state government study, many areas in Punjab may go dry after 2029.
- The state has already over-exploited its groundwater for irrigation purposes as it fills granaries of the Centre by growing wheat and paddy worth Rs 70,000 crore every year.
- As per reports, water in about 79% of the state’s area is over-exploited.
- In such a situation, the government says sharing water with any other state is impossible.
- Haryana has been staking claim to the Ravi-Beas waters through the SYL Canal on the plea that providing water for irrigation was a tough task for the state.
- In southern parts, where underground water had depleted up to 1700 feet, there was a problem of drinking water.
- Haryana has been citing its contribution to the central food pool and arguing that it is being denied its rightful share in the water as assessed by a tribunal.