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ROBBERY OF PUNJAB WATERS


ROBBERY OF PUNJAB WATERS


A river and a natural stream passing through a territory is both a curse and a boon. Just think of the havoc brought by Punjab river floods in the,' year 1988. Accordingly a territory which falls in the basin of a river has 'exclusive right to the use of its water. This principle is called the ‘Riparian Law’. It is thus an internationally acclaimed principle which is also adopted in our Constitution. After the Indian independence if any state has been discriminated against it is Punjab and  here is a glaring example where the Centre has unauthorisedly given awards of waters to the non-riparian states. People would have tolerated this  had this injustice been done to quench the thirst of region reeling under draught or deserts but unfortunately due to the evil intentions of our Govt. it was done to secure a permanent vote bank. On the other hand Govt gives free electricity to Punjab farmer to pump sub-soil and the farmer utterly unmindful of the consequences  is fast exhausting the sub-soil water. The water table is fast going down and the year is not far off when the tube- well of the Jatt goes dry permanently to whatever depth he may bore the soil. While on the other hand the attempts to make the deserts of Rajasthan into an oasis are bound to fall flat or the very idea and the fact that is against reality more than 50% canal water is lost in seepage and evaporation in its 300 kms long canal journey bears testimony to the aforementioned view. Dr. S. Dosanjh joins the Punjab Monitor to study various aspects of this issue of life and death to Punjabis.



(OCR- Machine typing: E&OE)

Riparian in legal terms means an owner of land bordering a river or some other natural stream. Under the Easement Laws a riparian has a right to use the water of the river or the stream that passed through ones land. Logically it is allso correct as it is the riparian who has to face the adversities caused by a river like devastating floods. ln the Punjab  floods of Sept.'88 alone hundreds lives were lost and hundreds crores worth property was lost in the Punjab from the fury of floods in the rivers of the Ravi, Beas and the Sutlej. These three rivers which are left in the East Punjab after the 1947 partition are miles away from the Haryana and Rajasthan what to talk of their passing or touching the territories of these states, yet the Centre Govt. has allotted substantial shares of water to these states. Not only water but electricity generated at the dams in Punjab too is these allocated to these non-riparian states with no royalty to the Punjab although royalty in the form of electricity is allotted to Himachal Pradesh for the reason that the Himachal is a riparian state , the view of the centre is that the Haryana is entitled to the river water share as it used to derive benefits of the rivers in the undivided Punjab. On the other hand the Punjab is not a riparian state with reference to the Yamuna river while it passes through the territory of the Haryana but the same principle of a successor state has not been accepted When Punjab made a claim on the Yamuna waters. The interstate agreement 1955 made at the instance of the Centre provided as under as to what proportion the waters were to be shared:
Punjab 7.20 MAF (including 1.30 of Pepsu) Rajasthan 8.00, J & K 0.65 Consequently the Indus Water Treaty was signed between the Indian and the Pak Govt.
 On the 1966 partition of the Punjab an Expert Committee on the Distribution of River Waters recommended that out of the total of 7 MAF available to the Punjab after having allowed I MAF to the Rajasthan, 4.56 MAF should be allotted to the Haryana while the remaining 2.44 MAF should go to the Punjab not withstanding that 73 o/o area of the Punjab was under the canal irrigation while the Haryana had only 38% of the area under irrigation After Boundry Commission under justice J.C. Shah (1966) recommended that for water management the Partition Joint Boards be set up with beneficiary states as members plus the Himachal government as a member while the Chairman should be appointed by the Centre, The same was the verdict on the power management. The Punjab Re-organisation Act 1966 provided that the Punjab and the Haryana should agree to the sharing of river waters within two years failing which the Centre would give its own verdict. The two states failed to reach at an agreement as such Mrs Indira Gandhi declared on March 1 976, Award on the sharing of waters as under:-
 Punjab 3.5 MAF (millions acre feet)
Haryana 3.5 MAF
Delhi 0.2 MAF
 At that time the Punjab Congress government was headed by Giani Zail Singh who growled against Award but didn't create enough din to reach the centre. ln 1977 after the dark hour of the emergency the Akalis came to power. They challenged this award in the Supreme Court., Before the case was decided in thej Court, Indira Gandhi came back to] power in 1980. The Punjab assembly  was dissolved and after the elections j the Congress (l) ministry was installed  in the Punjab. The Congress (l) ministry on the advice of Indira Gandhi withdrew the case from the Supreme Court. She however held talks with the Akalis twice in 1981 mainly on the sharing of the river waters. Later however she announced another award on Dec. 31, 1981 without consulting the Akalis. The new award did not decrease the shares of the non- riparian states, however the share of the Punjab was increased cleverly assuming that the total flow of the waters in the 3 rivers was not 15:85 as assumed in the 1955 agreement but it was 17.17 as per her studies on the flow of these rivers from the year 1921  to 1961 (not 1981 'surprisingly).
The new award allocated water as under –
 Punjab 4.22 MAF,
 Haryana 3.5
Rajasthan 8.6,
Delhi 0.2,
 J & K 0.65
 Later Rajiv-Longowal accord was signed in 1985 which provided that the states would continue to get the water in the proportion they were using as on 01-07-85 as far as the waters of Ravi and the Beas was concerned. However, regarding the sharing of the Satluj water the matter was to be binding on the states. lt also provided that the SYL would be completed bY Aug. 15, 1986. ln May-June 1982 the Haryana elections were due and Indira Gandhi in accordance with her avowed policy of dramatising to seek popular support' held talks with the Akalis again on April 5, 1982, she behaved furiously with the Akalis to break down the talks. Prakash Singh Badal then politely remarked, 'Please do not think everything is alright in the Punjab. The government’s grip in the state is very loose. The situation in the state is like the lull before a storm." From that day onward the distance between the Akalis and the Govt. increased where both sides slipped into a situation that spelt disaster. Indira Gandhi was bent upon wooing the Haryana electorate and on April B, 1982 she inaugurated the construction of Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal, under heavy security since the Akalis were expected to demonstrate. Akalis were arrested. The Punjab unit of the communist Party of India (Marxist) also extended support to the Akalis agitation who intensified their agitation from MaY 24, 1982 and Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra staged a protest rally at the canal digging site. However, the 'Nahar Roko' or 'Stop the Canal' movement could not gain such momentum and later even the Marxists also withdrew from it. ln the White Paper issued to justify the 1984 military action in Golden Temple and in the Punjab, the government explained that it was correct to reopen the 1955 water agreement after nearly three decades and that too when the Rajasthan had built an infrastructure at a cost of 6000 millions "for the dry lands of the Indus basin in the Rajasthan," and the government had been prepared to resind the Dec. 31, 1982 agreement between the Haryana and the Punjab, to determine afresh the allocation between the two states, and that the government was prepared to refer the disputes as regards the waters of river Ravi and the Beas to a tribunal headed by a Supreme Court judge. "Even these assurances," says the White PaPer, "had no effect in changing the rigid position of the Akali Dal representatives, on this issue." Evidently, the government was not in a mood to reoPen the 1955 which entitled the state of Rajasthan for lion's (share) of the Punjab waters. not-with-standing that it had not been able to use it even after such a long tirne and much of it has been going to
the Punjab itself while it is suspected that a day would soon come eventually when the Punjab would be denied of the water it has been using for years. Public appeals have been made to the Punjab Government not to  surrender state's water rights in the national interest. People have forgotten that once Rajsthan, a non-riparian stage of the River Narmada, claimed a share in its waters, a claim contested by Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, the riparian states of the river Narmada. NO one appealed to these states in the larger national or humanitarian interest asking them to surrender their rights on the Narmada waters to help out the needy state of Rajasthan. lnstead the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal was appointed and the Government of India vide Notification No.1011169 W.D. dated 16.10.1969 referred the case to the tribunal for adjudication. The decision of this tribunal is very relevant to the issue under discussion. . The tribunal vide its judgement dated 23.2.1972 declared: The riparian states have legislative and executive jurisdiction under entry 17 of List- ll read with article 162 of the Constitution with regard to the use and control of waters of Narmada River for public purpose. lt follows therefore, that the Riparian state of Gujarat. Madhya pradesh, Maharashtra, have a legal right to claim apportionment of narmada Waters. Rajasthan has no such legislative or executive jurisdiction over Narmada River Waters and has, therefore, no legal clairn for apportionment of the water of Narmada. lt follows that Rajasthan has no locus standi to make a complaint u.s 3 of the 1956 Act...'
WATERS CASE FOR THE HARYANA: Not with-standing that Haryana is not a riparian state with reference to the Punjab rivers, denying it the quantum of water it had been using on Oct. 31, 1966 would be against humanitarian principles but giving any more share than that would only be the high-handedness of the Centre against the Punjab. ln the interest of justice Haryana must pay some seigniorage charges to Punjab since the canals are passing through it and secondly it is a riparian state.
After the 1966 partition Haryana Was given the water share of the Punjab rivers as the successor state of the united one. But the judges of such a redistribution ignosed the very fact that even the river Yamuna also passed through the Punjab. That was before 1966 and the Punjabi Suba was not given the share of Yamuna waters on the grounds that they had allotted share of Punjab water to the Haryana. A different yardstick at every  step.
 WATERS CASE FOR RAJASTHAN: That Rajasthan again like Haryana is not at all a riparian state with reference to the Punjab rivers. As stated earlier rights to the state were given under the 1955 interstate agreement which gave the state more than half of the total flow of the rivers. This again was done at the instance of the Centre which thought that it would be able to justify the Indian claim over the river waters against the Pakistan while the experts of the World Bank were amused at the Indian claim of turning the desert into an oasis as a whole. The story is like this. When Cyril Redcliffe was dividing India into two nations his pencil was finding it impossible to draw a line over the irrigation systems that had been developed years ago. He therefore tried to persuade both Nehru and Jinnah to maintain River system as joint venture managed by both the countries. Both Nehru and Jinnah awarded him with a severe rebuff. Jinnah told him that he would rather do with the desert of Pakistan than have fertile lands irrigated with the help of Hindu India.
lmmediately after forcing the states to sign an agreement, work on the 295 miles long Rajasthan Canal with the estimated cost of 500 million dollars was started. ln 1958 international experts were invited to examine the project. The US expert  felt that in order to make it comprehensive study of the project calling the for the irrigation of the 4.1 million acres of land, it would have been necessary for the experts to devote years of time making land classification, agricultural economic  and settlement of construction. Author of 'The Indus River - A Study of the Effects of the Partition ' AIloys  A.Miche commenting on the project noted "Viewed realistically and the Rajasthan Project in its ultimate form is a dubious one. The idea of extending the Rajasthan Canal parallel to the Indo Pakistan border down to a point about opposite the Sukkur Barrage was a seductive one. 7.9 million acres could be brought under command and 6.1 million of these are potential  cultivable although the project in form is limited to supplying water to only 4.5 million acres of which only 3.5 million would be cultivated in a given year. Even then these lands will receive only 1 cusec of water for each 250 to 300 acres an intensity lower than which  has prevailed in the Punjab since the British times (1 cusec for 200 acres) and less than one third of what prevails in the U.S. Assured by the full use d the Eastern Rivers, India naturally sought to irrigate an area, in which to demonstrate that free India could do as much as the British in bringing new lands under cultivation. Forgotten or overlooked were the fundamental differences between the Punjab its convergent perennial stream tapering doabs and silty soil and Thar desert hundreds of miles from Sutlej with its sand and sand
The cumulative irrigation experience
India Egypt, US and Soviet Union indicates that more food and fibre be obtained by increasing the water allowance to existing cultivated then by spreading water within over tracts. The 8.8 MAF of B water that are to be diverted from for the Rajasthan canal could be put much better use in the East Punjab north and south of Sutlej and in eastern margins of the Rajasthan served by the Bikaner Canal and Sirhind Feeder. Combined with concentrated application of the limited fertilizers at India's disposal, yields the established areas could doubled or trebled at a saving in and ban in Rajasthan. The ve experience with the Bhakra project himself ivith increase water supplies to 3.3 MAF south of the Sutlej demonstrates this. Yet even here out of every 182 (Confirm the unit 7 could be cusec) run into a canal 112 are lost by seepage evaporation and non- beneficial transpiration of plants' 'On Rajasthan canal although the lining will reduce seepage in main canal to a minimum evaporation alone might reduce supplies by 50%. And the seepage losses in the unlined branch canals, distributaries, minors, sub- minors water courses and on bunded fields themselves will further reduce the share of water that can be used beneficially by plants of economic values.
Undertaking a costly Project to irrigate lands which like all deserts lands are highly porous and deficient in organic matter without first carrying out the basic soil surveys and the studies on land claY on land classification and that the carrying out for the sake of pride fetched severe international experts' criticism could be plain frustration in the end- An expert claimed that the Rajasthan project had been a failure and that water logging and salinity had found no remedy where absence of natural drainage was another hurdle. "Unless artificial drains into the Sutlej were created this would in turn would pollute the river" said Rachpal Singh Gill that Rajasthan had not been able to use the 8.54 MAF of water allocated to it in 1955 and it had not been able to use an average of more than 4.98 MAF and that too nearly half of which was lost in the process while the rest was just going waste.,"he added.
On question from where them should the arid states of Rajasthan and Haryana fulfill their water requirements , Daljit Singh of the Council of the Sikh Affairs explains, "Every state must access its own geographical and natural status....Every state inherits a number of deficiencies which can be surrounded by human enterprises.-.. the Chinese had build a massive dam Tu-Kianf, which irrigated 500,000 acres through thousands of Kilometers long canals in 100 BC. The Persians had developed underground sources of water by digging tunnels several hundred feet deep into the surface. lsrael in our times-.-'have built system which irrigates the desert  regions through canals linked to lake Tiberis, located in the north of the border of a hostile Syria. They are also working on schemes of cloud seeding and desalinization of Sea waters.
Rajasthan is in comparison to Isreal better equipped with hydro- geographical resources. Much cannot Ou Oon" about its desert lands in the northwest. One of the Himalayan river Ghaggar loses itself in its sands. But large underground water resources frave been identified with human will they can be exploited to meetthe water requirements of the State. Land in the east of Rajasthan is comparatively fertile. The state has been rbceiving about 3 MAF of water from the Punjab rivers. Much of it has been going waste. Also Rajasthan had hardly made use of the irrigation potential of its own rivers. The Chambal flows through the south-eastern parts' The Banas which rises near Udaipur flows down the plains in the north-east of the state to converge in the Chambal near Savai Madhopur. lt has many tributaries like Jowari, Sukri, and Jagari which can all be dammed for irrigation. Banganga is yet another tributary of the Yamuna which rises near JaiPur- These water resources if adequately utilized will irrigate more than one third of its cultivable land. So why drain Punjab's river water resources while doing next to nothing to exploit its own rivers and underground water deposits ? Moreover, Rajasthan need not aspire to become an agriculture State because Punjab is one. Rajasthan is naturally gifted with chemical and mineral resources. lt can develop an industrial economy by exploiting its mineral wealth. ln all probability its desert will Yield a great wealth of petroleum."
THE PUNJAB AND THE RIPARIAN PRINCIPLE
Daljit Singh of the Council of Sikh Affairs in publicaton, 'The Punjab River Water Dispute - The Truth' have dealt the case in detail, copiously quoting international works to the issue. The Publication quotes Dr. F.J.Berber from his book 'Rivers in lnternational Law' and defines the term as "the riparian right is the principle of community in the waters by virtue of which the rights in water are either vested in the collective body of riparians or are divided proportionally; no one state can disposed of the waters without the positive cooperation of the others." The Helsinki Rules of 1966 adopted by the lnternational Law lay down that each Basin state is entitled, within its territory to a reasonable and equitable share in the beneficial uses of the water of an international drainage basin, equitability being determined by many facts including the past utilisation the waters of the Basin and the existing utilisation the economic and social needs of each Basin State the evidence of unnecessary waste in the utilisation sf waters of the Basin. ln the case of dispute over the Jordon River the unsought the consultation of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)' The TVA again preparing the scheme relied on the principle that the reasonable needs of all in basin users in the riparian states must be provided for before out of basin users can be considered. So all these international conventions and principles laid are in the favour of the Punjab case. The riparian principle was fully followed in the history of the canal development in the Punjab as well. The states of Patiala and Bikaner were using the waters of Sutlej and these states were not riparian ones and both of these states had to pay seigniorage charges to the Punjab Govt. which was directly under the rule of the British and this principle was followed until independence.
Lord Curzon appointed Indian lrrigation Commission in 1901 urging it to recommend measures against the recurring famines. The llC recommended that the government intensify irrigation in the Punjab to produce a grain surplus to be exported to the famine affected area instead of attempting to diversify waters of the Indus outside the Basin.
The Governrnent of India Act 1919 granted autonomy to the provinces in the subjects of river waters and irrigation and the law provided the intervention of the Centre only where two or more riparian states could not solve their dispute through mutual consultation. The 1935 Act further strengthened this principle of autonomy, and almost same principles have been retained in the Indian Constitution. The Centre has thus power when there is a disPute between the states. All the awards of the Centre relating to the Punjab river waters are violative of the norms as the states like Haryana and Rajasthan are not at all riparian with reference to the Punjab rivers.
Daljit Singh makes the above view amply clears:-'With its cultivable area of 10.5’ million acres, Punjab's water requirement for agriculture is 50 to 60 tutAF. The total availability of waters from the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi rivers is only 37 elsewhere we read it is onlY 15.85 MAF which is 23 MAF short of its actual requirement. To make for the deficiency they have had to depend on tube well irrigation whose costs are prohibitive specially if pump sets are run on diesel instead of electricity. The most dangerous aspect of this dependence on sub-soil water is that the source is getting fast depleted. lf depletion of sub-soil water is not checked the process will lead to the advent of semi-arid conditions in Punjab. Over-exploitation of sub-soil water must therefore be checked immediately. Every drop of Punjabis river water resources must be saved for the requirement of its peasantry. The state has no river water to give away to its non-riparian neighbours."
 Punjab's Water Requirements The total requirement of punjab is 54 m.a.f. against which only 33 m.a.f. is available of which as just mentioned 18 m.a.f. flows out of the State. The water table has fallen in 50 per cent of the punjab area. ln some areas in the decade 1975-84, sub soil water level fell by 10 meters. Only 45%  irrigation in punjab is through canals. The rest is by tubewells and as a result punjab has to over exploit its ground waters by 1.5 m.a.f. every year.
Out of the 118 blocks in Punjab, 60 have been declared bY the 'Water Resources Cell' of the Punjab lrrigation Department to be 'black- areas', where they recommend that no electricity connections be given for tubewells. Twenty two fall in the 'grey area' which are likely to go 'black' very soon. Only 36 blocks are "white"; out of which 14 have saline water. So in real terms according to the water Resources Cell, ground water should be tapped in future only in 22 'white blocks'.
For efficient use, the remaining Ravi- beas water should used for irrigating the soil of Punjab because (a) Punjab has a large deficit of irrigation waters (b) Returns from irrigation are to be much high  on the soils of Punjab which belong to a more desirable irrigability class.
According to classification of the bench mark soil of India into inigability class by Murthy et al. (1982) 80-90% soils of Punjab fall in inigabili$ class I and ll. These are capable of producing high yields of wide range of climatically adapted crops. Only 1G15% area falls in class lll. These soils are onlY marginally suitable for irrigated agriculture due to their course texture, excessive intake rates and uneven topography. Because of the prevailing topography, gravity irigation by surface water is not possible in several parts of Haryana. To introduce canal irrigation in these areas, water will have to be lifted several feet high which will add immensely to the cost of developing irrigation.
Why Not a Ganga Canal?
 Haryana can get water from the ganga instead of wasting Punjab's fertile land for the S.Y.L.canal in the Ganga basin. The aVailabilty of water is 45 m.a.f. out which only 3 m.a.f is utilised and the remaining 42 m.a.f in going waste in to the sea. A portion of this can surely be diverted for irrigation to Rajasthan and Haryana. ln the national interest, our aim should be to utilize the national resources in the best possible manner and for this it does not seem logical to allow Ganga water to go waste, while claiming water from a state which itself is deficient in water for its agricultural needs.
To put it in the nut-shell the Punjab owes its prosperity to the rivers if these are snatched then whatever is left of 'Punj-Aab' will cease to exist.

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