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Vasundara Raje seeks PM's intervention to secure water for state

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 22: Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundara Raje has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to secure 50,000 cusecs of water for the state from Punjab immediately to save the standing crop, failing which there could also be a law and order problem there.

''We have emergent requirement of only 50,000 cusecs of water for seven days. In case, this legitimate demand of the cultivators of Rajasthan is not agreed to, I am afraid it may damage the standing crops and unnecessarily invite agitation from the farmers,'' she said in a letter sent to the Prime Minister last night, sources said.

The letter followed a telephonic conversation Dr Singh had with the Rajasthan Chief Minister yesterday on the issue after it was raised in both Houses of Parliament.

In the letter, Ms Raje noted that the undue delay in restoration of 0.60 MAF of water, withheld by Punjab, had given rise to discontentment among farmers of her state in the Indira Gandhi Canal Project Area. She also referred to last year's farmers agitation in Gharsana in Sri Ganganagar district on scarcity of water.

Ms Raje said she had suggested to the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) to frame a water regulation programme for at least six months at the beginning of the depletion period, so as to enable the cultivators to plan their crops. Under the programme, water for irrigation was to be provided to the cultivators upto March 29.

She said the state government had sent to BBMB an indent for allocating water at 10,800 cusecs for March. Along with it, a request was also made for depletion of the Pong Dam from 1301 feet to 1290 feet, without which it was not possible to get required water to save the crop.

It was also assured that Punjab and Haryana would be compensated for the loss of their share utilised by Rajasthan on account of such depletion during the next filling/depletion period, the Rajasthan Chief Minister said.

Ms Raje also informed the Prime Minister that she had made a personal appeal to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on March 3 for helping Rajasthan at this juncture by agreeing to its request for depletion of the dam to the level required. The Punjab Chief Minister, however, did not accede to the request on the plea that it will ''adversely affect the water requirement of Punjab.

She pointed out that it was not the first time that Rajasthan had made requests for depeltion of the dam. She said data would reveal that the dam had been depleted below 1301 feet every year during the last five years.

The Rajasthan Chief Minister also pointed out that BBMB had already approved the allocation of water for Rajasthan till March 19 against the state's request to make water available till March 27 at Harike.

She said her March 14 request to Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to issue necessary direction to BBMB to consider Rajathan's request for depletion of the dam did not yield any result.

While refering to the unanimous resolution adopted by Rajasthan Legislative Assembly on Monday urging Punjab Government to do the needful, Ms Raje said ''I request you to kindly intervene and direct State of Punjab to agree to our request for depletion...and also advise Ministry of Power, to issue necessary direction to BBMB for allocating required water for Rajasthan.'' Meanwhile, a delegation of Rajasthan MPs led by former Union Minister Subhash Maharia met the Prime Minister on the issue. It pointed out to Dr Singh that the water distribution regulation programme for the Rabi season 2005-06 was finalised in September 2005 as per standard practice. However, the BBMB had now decided not to release water to Rajasthan on the ground that the level of water impounded cannot be allowed to fall below 1301 ft.

''This is unfortunate and absolutely in contravention of the past practices,'' the MPs said.

It also pointed out that Rajasthan had been denied full share of water of 8.60 MAF from the Ravi-Beas project. BBMB was constituted for the management of the project but it did not have any member from Rajasthan till date.


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