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  • Writer's pictureShamsher singh

Punjab water crises

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

Punjab gets the least while Rajasthan gets the most amount of water from the rivers of Punjab

About 70 percent of the total water of Punjab's rivers is regularly diverted to the states of Rajasthan and Haryana. Initially, the total water in Sutlej, Beas and Ravi was estimated at 325 lakh acre feet. (But now that has reduced to 285 lakh acre feet, maybe even lesser) Of all these waters, Rajasthan receives 112 lakh acre feet of water from Punjab's rivers, 86 lakh acre feet through the Rajasthan Canal, 15 lakh acre feet through the Bhakra Canal and 11 lakh acre feet through the Bikaner Canal. Initially, the princely state of Bikaner was given this water in exchange of money for Punjab.

This money goes to Punjab and not the centre, because river waters belong to the state and the center has no right over the water. However, this payment has long been stopped since the year 1947. In addition, Haryana draws 60 lakh acre feet of water from the rivers of Punjab. The breakup is: 43.3 lakh acre feet of Sutlej water goes through Bhakra canal to Haryana and additionally, 16.2 lakh acre feet out of 35 lakh acre feet allotted from Ravi-Beas system also reaches Haryana through the same Bhakra canal. The remaining 18.8 lakh acre feet has been a source of dispute.

The total water allocated to Haryana is thus around 78.3 lakh acre feet. Apart from this, Haryana draws another 56 lakh acre feet of water from the Yamuna. Haryana also uses 11 lakh acre feet of the Ghaggar waters. Delhi also gets a total of 11 lakh acre feet from the rivers. After all of these diversions, only around 30 percent of water is left remaining in Punjab for the state and its people. Most people do not know that Haryana has more water than Punjab even though its area is less than that of Punjab. The area of Punjab is 50,362 sq km and that of Haryana is 44212 sq km. After all these diversions, the farmers of Punjab are repeatedly asked to plant crops that require the least amount of water. This is like a bandit admonishing their victim after robbing them to use what is left sparingly. This is a matter of adding salt to the wound. -Harjagmandar Singh



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