Punjab moves court against Haryana’s water channel plan


New Delhi : The Punjab government Thursday moved the Supreme Court to stop neighbouring Haryana from building a water channel off the Bhakhra canal to irrigate its farming land.

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A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan slated Aug 14 for the hearing on the lawsuit by Punjab after the counsel for the state, Rajeev Dhavan, apprised the bench of the petition filed at the court's registry and sought an early hearing of the matter.

Appearing before the bench, which also included Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice Dalveer Bhandari, Dhavan said the Haryana government had undertaken the construction of a 20-km water channel, running from west to east, adjoining Punjab's territory.

He said the water channel, part of Haryana's 'Hansi Branch Butana Branch of the Multipurpose Link Channel', is to have a 10.2-foot-high embankment for its first 11 km, tapering to a height of seven feet for the subsequent 9-km run.

The counsel told the court that Haryana envisaged feeding the water channel from the Bhakhra canal by puncturing it near Ajimgarh village in Kaithal district of the state to irrigate its farming land in the neighbouring Yamuna basin.

Dhavan contended that the construction of the embankment for the water channel would obstruct the free flow of surface water from north to south and would result in flooding in Punjab.

He said the water deluge in turn would result in submergence of 20,756 acres of land in 32 villages in Punjab and require displacement of over 100,000 people in the state.

Dhavan said the project would also ruin the existing irrigation system as well as communication system in the state and cause other damages.

Terming the construction of the water channel by Haryana as "violation of territorial rights of Punjab", Dhavan pointed out that the farming land which Haryana proposed to irrigate by the channel was not part of the areas identified for irrigation in the 1959 agreement on the Bhakhra Nangal dam.

Dhavan said Haryana's project was akin to "creating an extra-territorial nuisance" against Punjab and amounted to trespass into its territory.