Haryana asks Punjab to act against those who caused breaches (Second Lead)

July 12th, 2010 - 8:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, July 12 (IANS) The Haryana government said Monday that Punjab should take criminal action against “mischievous elements” who caused breaches in the Ghaggar river and diverted water into the dry Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, leading to flooding in both states.
“From preliminary investigations, it has been revealed that there were man-made breaches in rivers and canals in Punjab’s territory,” Haryana Irrigation Minister Ajay Singh Yadav told reporters here.

“These deliberate actions of some mischievous elements of Punjab led to floods in Haryana that were otherwise easily avoidable,” he said.

Yadav said the SYL canal has a limited capacity and the release of large volumes of water resulted in breaches of its banks in Haryana.

“We cannot take any action against the culprits as it does not come under our jurisdiction. Therefore, it is the duty of the Punjab government to register criminal cases against the accused and take strict action against them,” he said.

On joint patrolling of the SYL canal by Punjab and Haryana, Yadav said no reply has been received from Punjab.

Reacting to Haryana’s charge, the Punjab government Monday assured Haryana that it will take steps to ensure that no cuts are made in the SYL canal.

The assurance was given by Deputy Commissioner of Patiala in Punjab Deepinder Singh during a telephonic conservation with his counterpart in Ambala in Haryana Samir Pal Srow.

Singh said that all existing breaches in the SYL canal had been plugged and assured that care would be taken in future to ensure that such situations did not arise again which force the people to face the wrath of floods.

Ambala, Kurukshetra and Kaithal districts in Haryana faced flood fury last week following major breaches in the SYL canal in both states, causing flooding in Haryana.

Haryana had earlier blamed Punjab for not taking effective steps to prevent people from making cuts in the SYL canal and diverting the water of the Ghaggar river, which was in spate, into the canal.

Yadav said: “We have also suggested that security agencies and cops from both Punjab and Haryana should do joint patrolling of the SYL canal but so far we have not got any reply from them. In fact, Punjab has not plugged the breaches that are on their side of the canal.”

R.N. Prashar, the advisor to Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Monday said cuts in the SYL canal could be prevented by joint police patrolling.

“Senior officers of Punjab had already been intimated about this problem and they had assured cooperation in this matter. The Haryana government is making all out efforts to resolve this matter amicably,” he said.

Also, some of the breaches took place in Hansi Butana canal last week led to flooding in Kaithal district in Haryana.

“Punjab’s chief secretary wrote a letter to his counterpart in Haryana objecting to the construction of the Hansi Butana canal. He said the canal was against the natural flow of water and was constructed illegally. We strongly object to the language used in the letter as this canal was constructed after keeping in mind all legal aspects,” Yadav said.

He said that Punjab had even filed a case against this in the Supreme Court.

“Punjab is unnecessarily raising this issue and they are trying to pre-judge the mind of the court as this case is coming up for hearing before the Supreme Court of India July 16. By giving such illogical statements they are trying to influence the proceedings,” he said.

On the flood situation in Haryana, Yadav said: “The situation is still worrisome in Sirsa, Fatehabad and Kaithal districts. Although the overall situation is better than the last few days, we are still keeping a close watch on the developments.”

“For the first time, we have decided to make budgetary provisions for the maintenance and cleanliness of SYL canal. Besides, we will also pay extra attention to the cleanliness of other drains and canals in Haryana,” he added.

Nearly 400,000 acres of agricultural land, 2,000 villages and a few towns in nearly 10 districts in each state have been affected in the flood. At least 33 people, including 22 in Punjab, lost their lives.

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