Amarinder blames Haryana’s Congress government for floods

July 14th, 2010 - 6:16 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram Chandigarh, July 14 (IANS) Former Punjab chief minister and senior Congress leader Amarinder Singh Wednesday blamed his party’s government in Haryana for “illegally” constructing the Hansi-Butana canal, causing widespread flooding in some districts of the state.
“The floods in six districts of Punjab, including Patiala, have been unprecedented. Water from the overflowing Ghaggar river has been blocked by the illegally constructed Hansi-Butana canal in Haryana,” Amarinder Singh told reporters here.

The former chief minister said that when he was in power (2002-2007), his government had objected to the construction of the “illegal” canal by Haryana.

“I had told (Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh) Hooda that the construction of the canal was illegal and the matter was pending before the Supreme Court. How can a government construct a canal without knowing what volume of water is available to them?” Amarinder Singh asked.

He pointed out that Haryana had kept only one siphon as an outlet for water below the Hansi-Butana canal, whereas at least 44 siphons were required to tackle the water.

This is the first time that a senior Congress leader from Punjab has openly come out against his party’s government in neighbouring Haryana.

It was Amarinder Singh’s government in Punjab which had unilaterally got the water sharing agreement with Haryana and other states abrogated by the state assembly in 2004.

Amarinder Singh, however, refused to buy the theory that Punjab was responsible for the floods in Haryana.

“I don’t agree with that. If Punjab farmers see that water is entering their land, they will try to divert the water somewhere. In fact, Haryana has created a situation where we have to face floods,” he said.

Both states have been affected by heavy rain and flooding in the last 10 days, leaving 32 people dead and submerging over 5 lakh (500,000) acres of agriculture land, with freshly planted paddy crop, submerged in water ranging from three to 10 feet.

Haryana had earlier blamed “mischievous elements” in Punjab for diverting the flood water of Ghaggar and other rivers to the not-in-use Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal, leading to floods in Ambala and Kurukshetra districts of Haryana.

Nearly a dozen districts in both states have been affected by flooding in the last 10 days.

Amarinder Singh said that the Akali Dal-led Punjab government should immediately distribute relief money to the flood affected people.

“They have over Rs.2,300 crore in calamity relief fund. They should not wait for more central assistance. People who are suffering should be given the money immediately.”

He added that union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who has asked Punjab and Haryana to utilize calamity relief funds, should “look at the bigger picture (of the losses due to floods)”.

He said that if the Punjab government wanted, Congress leaders would approach Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek greater assistance for the flood-affected Punjab.

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