SYL solution in present reality, not history
Opinion » Comment The changed ground realities vis-à-vis hydrological, agronomical and ecological conditions of both Punjab and Haryana have rendered old agreements, and the consequent building of the SYL Canal, unfeasible.
It has been widely reported in the media that the Government of India is willing to mediate and is prepared to refer the issue relating to the sharing of Ravi-Beas waters to a new tribunal to be constituted under the amended Interstate Water Disputes Act, 1956, provided the government of Punjab gives an undertaking that it would abide by the award of the newly constituted tribunal.
Secondly, how is the government of Punjab expected to give such an undertaking, even before the tribunal is constituted and its terms of reference are known?
That Punjab has requisite water to meet its current requirements and, rather than sharing it with its needy neighbour, is letting it flow to Pakistan.
That carrying the non-existing surplus water to Haryana, by constructing a 214-km-long Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal, will mitigate water scarcity in southern Haryana, without causing any distress to the farmers of Punjab, who are currently utilising this water.
That there are no alternative and better ways of meeting the water scarcity of Haryana.
Unfortunately, none of these assumptions hold good today in the face of changed hydrological, agronomical and ecological conditions.
The changed ground realities have rendered such agreements and consequent building of the SYL Canal unfeasible, without causing a grave damage to the farmers of Punjab, which could not be the intention of the Central government, or the government of Haryana or the Supreme Court.
Thirdly, this radical shift in the cropping pattern of Punjab is in response to the policies pursued by the Central government in the late 1960s and early 1970s to provide much-needed food security to the country, which are even today being continued, despite many other states having caught up with Punjab in the production of wheat and rice.
Fifthly, more extensive exploitation of ground-water resources is hardly a solution for Punjab’s water problem.