The Great Rajasthan Loot
TOP EXPERT IN INTER-STATE DISPUTES, PRITAM SINGH KUMEDAN BRINGS OUT THIS SHOCKING STORY
Right from the PM, they were all party to it. Plans were drafted overnight and Punjab was told it will get compensation for its waters later from Rajasthan. No one disputes that. Now that rough estimates show Punjab has been looted to the extent of Rs 80,000 crore by Rajasthan, will our politicians wake up and act?
Punjab must reclaim its Rs 80,000 Crore from Rajasthan
This is the great rip off trick played upon Punjab. For several decades now, Rajasthan has been using waters from Punjab’s rivers, waters for which it was to pay, for which it had agreed to pay. Everything is a matter of record. Documents are available, and experts have the same view on it. Yet, when Punjab made a demand for royalty for the waters, such hue and cry was raised. Inter-state disputes expert Pritam Singh Kumedan lifts the veil.
For far too long, Punjab has been demanding royalty for the river waters that it has given to Rajasthan. Even the highly controversial Punjab Termination of Agreements Act 2004 included a clause, called Clause 5, that provided legal cover for the continuous flow of these waters to Rajasthan. But it is not even the case of Rajasthan, or anyone else for that matter, that these waters were not to be paid for.
In fact, as this article will prove clearly and convincingly, the state of Rajasthan was to pay for these waters and the cost was to be calculated later as the agreement of 1955 was reached in a hurry because of an international aspect of the waters problem.
|Pritam Singh Kumedan|
For too many decades, Punjab has been fighting with Haryana over the SYL canal, and the entire dispute over waters has been reduced into a Punjab versus Haryana binary but one very important part of the dispute has been left uncommented upon, and has completely moved outside the public or the media gaze. So much so that even the experts dealing with the river waters issue and questions of availability of waters in Ravi and Beas have not been heard talking about this aspect.
The recent demand by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and the concomitant expression of
disagreements from Haryana have triggered the debate but the latest spat between the two states over the floods induced by a couple of days of rain should not be allowed to obscure the very, very important aspect of the royalty debate. While 'royalty' is a term used by Mr Badal, we are merely concerned about the cost and compensation for the water that is, and has been, flowing into Rajasthan from Punjab.
But first, some historical facts need to be gone into. The story is thrilling, to say the least, if you care to stick with the narrative
In the Conference held on 29 January 1955 under the Chairmanship of Gulzari Lal Nanda, the then Union Irrigation and Power Minister, it was decided to give 8.0 M.A.F. of Ravi-Beas waters to Rajasthan. Nowhere was it said that the water is to be given free-of-cost.
In fact, it was specifically decided that the cost of water will be worked out separately by the concerned states since the Conference was concerned only with distribution of water. This cost of water that has gone to Rajasthan has not been calculated so far, and it is this cost that we plan to put a rough ball park figure to, as suggested by experts.
About 40 crore Acre feet (400 M.A.F.) of water has gone to Rajasthan from Punjab's rivers over the last 40 years.
Besides this, Punjab also has to be compensated for the depletion of 40 crore acre feet of its sub-soil water and the cost of electricity for pumping out this water.
But under what circumstances was the water actually allocated to Rajasthan?
The Pre-partition story
After the Partition of the country in 1947, a "Standstill Agreement" for maintaining the pre-Partition allocation of water to West Punjab was signed in December 1947 at Shimla between East Punjab and West Punjab governments. This Agreement was to expire on 31 March, 1948, unless renewed. In spite of reminders, West Punjab did not bother to get it renewed. On April 1, 1948, East Punjab cut off water supplies to Upper Bari Doab Canal, taking off from Madhopur, and Dipalpur Canal, taking off from the right bank Ferozepur headworks. The result was that Lahore city was deprived of its main source of water supply and 8% of culturable command area in West Pakistan found itself without water.
S. Swaran Singh was then the Irrigation Minister and S. Swarup Singh was Chief Engineer of East Punjab.
This water tap to Pakistan was turned off without making any reference to the Central Government. No wonder, this cutting off of water supplies led to great resentment in Pakistan and a war-like situation developed between the two countries.
Eventually, the West Punjab Government sent two Chief Engineers to Shimla for negotiating a new agreement. A new agreement valid up to October 1948 was signed on 18 April 1948, in which East Punjab asserted that as per Punjab Partition (Apportionment of Assets and Liabilities) Order, 1947, and the Arbitral Award, the proprietary rights in the waters of Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rest wholly in East Punjab government and that West Punjab shall have to pay seigniorage charges (water royalty) for supply of water to CBDC (i.e. Pakistan portion of UBDC) and Dipalpur Canals. West Punjab Chief Engineers agreed and signed the agreement. Subsequently, an agreement more or less along similar lines was signed between the two Dominion Governments on May 4, 1948 at New Delhi.
This Agreement was signed on behalf of India by Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, N. V. Gadgil, Minister for Works, Mines and Power, Government of India and Swaran Singh, Minister of Irrigation East Punjab. On behalf of Pakistan, it was signed by Ghulam Mohd, Minister of Finance, Government of Pakistan and Shaukat Hyat Khan and Mumtaz Daultana, both Ministers of West Punjab.
Pakistan agreed to pay for water to East Punjab an amount that was to be specified by Prime Minister of India and deposit the same in the Reserve Bank of India. After some time, Pakistan started back-tracking on the agreement on the ground that it was signed under duress and is, therefore, not legally binding. India registered the agreement with U.N.O. on 10 May 1950. Pakistan, subsequently, terminated it unilaterally.
As the water dispute was leading to great tension between the two countries and could have led to war, the World Bank stepped in and offered its "good offices" to settle the dispute, an offer that was accepted by both India and Pakistan in March 1952.
In May,1948 after signing the agreement, Pakistan started digging a new supply channel on the right bank of Sutlej, five miles upstream of Ferozepur headworks (where both banks of Sutlej fall in Pakistan) to connect it directly to Dipalpur canal. India took strong objection to this and Pakistan, therefore, stopped digging the diversion channel in July 1948.
In May 1948, when Pakistan had posed the threat of by-passing Ferozepur headworks by constructing a new channel from the Sutlej in her territory, just above Ferozepur, East Punjab decided to construct a new barrage at Harike. In April 1949, East Punjab was asked by Central Government to submit at an early date, proposals for the construction of this barrage.
By the end of 1950, it was decioded that the Harike Barrage Project should include one head-regulator with a capacity of 7000 cusec for the proposed Ferozepur and Sirhind Feeders and another head-regulator, with a capacity of 18,500 cusec, for the proposed Rajasthan Canal. East Punjab also drew up a plan for diverting 20,000 cusec of River Chenab waters to Ravi by constructing a diversion tunnel at Marhu (5 miles downstream the confluence of Chandra and Bhaga). The Harike Barrage was completed in 1952. The intake gates of the 7000 cusecs Ferozepur-Sirhind feeder and 18,500 cusecs Rajasthan Feeder Canal were sealed with masonry until the feeder and part of the Rajasthan Canal were ready for use.
Central Govt's Fraud with Punjab
Although, the decision to give 8 MAF of Ravi-Beas waters to Rajasthan was taken only on 29.1.1955 in the conference held under the Chairmanship of Gulzari Lal Nanda, Union Irrigation Minister, it seems the GoI had already made up its mind and taken all necessary steps to give Ravi-Beas waters to Rajasthan in 1949-50 itself when the plan to construct a barrage at Harike was just under consideration.
Such was the awe and authority of the Central Government and the Planning Commission in those days that an unwilling East Punjab had to bow before illegal dictates of the Centre and agree to give 8 M.A.F. of Ravi-Beas Waters to Rajasthan. Bhim Sen Sachar was the Chief Minister and Ch. Lahiri Singh was the Irrigation Minister of Punjab in 1955. In April 1950, the Government of Rajasthan was asked by Government of India to undertake skeleton surveys of the areas likely to be commanded by a canal to serve parts of Rajasthan from Harike, Rajasthan government refused and the Government of India had, therefore, to get the survey done through its own agency.
N. D. Guihati, in his monumental work, "Indus Waters Treaty", observes:
"It would be interesting to recall here that East Punjab preferred at that time to go ahead with the Bhakhra Dam rather than with the Bhakhra Canal and had almost to be forced by the Planning Commission, in which I was the Chief of the Natural Resources Division, to give the Canal a higher priority. At the same time, not only was East Punjab somewhat hesitant about schemes which would take the waters of the Indus rivers outside East Punjab into Rajasthan but also, and surprisingly, the then Government of Rajasthan was averse to undertaking investigations for the Rajasthan Canal as it feared that, in the event of an adverse decision with regard to the use of these waters, Rajasthan might not be able to derive any benefit from such investigations. It was, therefore, decided that these investigations be undertaken by an agency of the Government of India and the costs borne by that Government.
Decision to give 8 M.A.F. Ravi-Beas Waters to Rajasthan
The decision to allocate almost half of Ravi-Beas Waters to Rajasthan was taken by the Centre at break-neck speed within a period of three weeks as a team of World Bank was to visit Pakistan and India in February,1955 to resolve the Waters dispute between the two countries and each country had to build up a convincing case. N.D. Gulhati, India's Chief negotiator and leader of Indian delegation for negotiating with the World Bank, writes:
"Earlier, at the beginning of January, the Bank had suggested a tour of Indus Basin to begin in the middle of February, to acquaint the new Bank team with the irrigation techniques and problems of the basin…Accordingly we had to be vigilant during the visit not only to counteract efforts of Pakistan but also to emphasize the urgency and importance of irrigation development in the Indus basin in India. Nothing would be as effective, I advised my Government, as concrete steps already taken before the field trip towards utilization in India of the entire flow of the Eastern Rivers. I urged, therefore, that work should begin immediately on the construction of the Rajasthan canal. This would furnish the best proof of India's needs."
"In January 1955, when it had been decided to undertake a study tour of the basin, I wrote from Washington emphasizing the urgency of reaching an interstate agreement and of according sanction to some of the proposed new works. This, I stated, was necessary to bring home to the visiting Bank and Pakistan groups, the need for, and the importance we attached to, the full utilization in India of the waters of the Eastern Rivers. Before the end of January, the necessary agreement between the States was secured by the Minister of Irrigation and Power, Gulzari Lal Nanda, under which 15.85 M.A.F. of the waters of the Ravi and the Beas, based on mean supplies in the two rivers, available over and above the actual pre-partition use in India., was allocated as follows between the States concerned: Jammu and Kashmir 0.65 MAF; PEPSU l.30 MAF; Punjab 5.90 MAF; and Rajasthan 8.00 MAF."
It may be added here that it was not an 'Agreement' in real sense of the term between the States but only a 'decision' taken in a meeting and that too under duress. 'The decision' was never put up before Punjab Cabinet for approval and in fact was never shown even to the Chief Minister, Punjab. Union Ministry of Irrigation and Power wrote to the States concerned for confirming the minutes of the Meeting and after many reminders from that Ministry, Ch. Lahiri Singh, Irrigation Minister, Punjab, hesitatingly sent only one line reply: "Minutes of the Conference held on 29.1.1955. are confirmed."
Why Punjab Demanded only 5.9 M.A.F. Waters?
The Centre had asked the States that white coming to the Conference on 29th January, 1955, they should bring along their requirements/demands for Ravi-Beas Waters. The instructions to the States were, that no area, which required lift irrigation should be included in the demand of Punjab or Pepsu. But for these instructions, Punjab and Pepsu would have demanded much more water by including Haryana areas and in that case no spare water would have been available for Rajasthan.
Rajasthan gets Ravi-Beas Waters
Work on the construction of Rajasthan Feeder was actually started in March 1958 and by the summer of 1966, 134 mile Feeder and approximately 100 miles of 292 mile Rajasthan Canal had been finished. In the spring of 1964, the masonry was removed and metal gates installed. Some kharif irrigation was provided in 1964 along the upper reaches of Rajasthan Canal, using supplies released from Bhakhra.
According to Rajasthan's own assertions, it is already getting 8 MAF of Ravi-Beas water (out of 8.6 MAF allocated to it as per 31.12. 1981 Agreement), about 1.5 MAF of Bhakhra water and 1.1 MAF for Bikaner Canal, i.e. a total of 10.6 M.A.F. So far, during the last 40 years, Rajasthan has received about 40 Crore Acre Feet (400 MAF) of water from Punjab's rivers.
Cost of Ravi-Beas waters yet to be decided
The Conference of 29.1.1955 was called in great hurry and only for the purpose of distributing Ravi-Beas Waters. Para 5 of decisions taken in the Conference stipulates: "The question of allocation of the cost of water including the cost of storage and other works may be taken up separately as the conference was concerned only with the distribution of supplies."
S. Harbans Singh, Chief Engineer, Irrigation, Punjab (retd), who was dealing with the subject in 1955 as XEN, has told me that they tried to discuss the question of payment for water by Rajasthan, but were snubbed on the ground that the Conference was concerned only with the distribution of water and that the cost of water etc. may be discussed by the States separately.
The reason why the question of payment of cost for water to Punjab by Rajasthan has remained dormant for the last 40 years is that Rajasthan started getting water for Rajasthan Canal only after about 10 years of the Conference. At the same time, Punjab was reorganized in 1966 and dispute about SYL Canal started with Haryana. The result was that clause 5 of the decision of the Conference dated 29.1.1955 was completely forgotten and Punjab has not worked out the cost/value of water supplied to Rajasthan so far. Nowhere, it is laid down or decided in any meeting or any conference that non-riparian state of Rajasthan would get Ravi-Beas waters free-of-cost.
Precedents where non-riparian States paid for water
Nowhere in the world has a non-riparian state ever got water even on payment and there has never been any claim or dispute about water by a non-riparian state in the whole world. However, in India, there are three instances, where non-riparian states got water on payment from riparian states because in those good olden days, there was abundance of water and most of it went waste to the sea.
The three instances are:
Sirhind canal: Agreement signed on 18 February, 1873 between the British Government and the non-riparian States of Patiala, Jind and Nabha, regarding Sirhind Canal, stipulated supply of water on payment of seigniorage by these States.
Periyar River: The Periyar river rises on the western side of the Ghats where there is superabundant rainfall and falls into the sea close to Cochin, Tamil Nadu, then called Madras province, a non-riparian, entered into an agreement with Travancore-Cochin State and got water of Periyar River on annual payment.
Gang (Bikaner Canal): Punjab agreed to give water to Bikaner State from Sutlej in 1918. Bahawalpur State objected on the ground that no water can be given to non-riparian State of Bikaner. Punjab gave water from its own share, an agreement was signed on 4 September,1920 and Bikaner State got water for Bikaner Canal on the basis of annual payment for water.
But why the secrecy, and from whom?
It may be noted that copy of 'Record of the decisions arrived at the Conference' circulated to the States concerned is marked SECRET (See picture). It is quite intriguing why the decisions were to be kept secret. And secret from whom? Not from the World Bank and Pakistan because these were meant only to be shown to them and convince them about utilization. Obviously, these decisions were to be kept secret from the media and the people of Punjab, fearing that there may be resentment and agitation in Punjab against the decision of giving 8.0 MAF of Ravi-Beas Water to the non-riparian State of Rajasthan. The decisions were never brought to the notice or approved by the Punjab Cabinet or Chief Minister or the Chief Secretary. In 1955, the Chief Engineer used to be the Secretary of the Irrigation Department also. Ch. Lahiri Singh who was the Irrigation Minister, Punjab in 1955, reluctantly and hesitatingly confirmed the minutes of the Conference. Even now only officials dealing with the subject have any knowledge about the so called 'Agreement'.
It is, therefore, time for Punjab to have a new look at the whole problem besides claiming cost/value of the water already supplied.
Realising Rs. 80,000 Crores by Punjab from Centre & Rajasthan for Ravi-Beas Waters
Clearly, decisions that normally would have taken decades to arrive at, were taken in great haste in a matter of hours, ignoring all Constitutional and legal provisions. And above all, "the decisions" taken in the meeting held on 29 January, 1955 were kept "SECRET" and with the passage of time, after some years, were dubbed as an "Agreement" between Punjab and Rajasthan regarding distribution of Ravi-Beas Waters.
As per clause 5 of the "Decisions" of this Conference, the question of cost of water was to be taken up separately as the Conference was concerned only with the distribution of water. This has not been done so far. Nobody has ever pointed this out during the last 55 years. It is time we do it now and also look at every aspect of the whole problem of giving water to Rajasthan from Punjab rivers afresh.
Here are some more startling and interesting facts regarding this so- called "Agreement" of January 29, 1955:
Views of Shri Kanwar Sain, Ex-Chairman, Central Water and Power Commission regarding Agreement of 29 January, 1955:
Shiromani Akali Dal launched Dharam Yudh Morcha in 1982 against injustice done to Punjab in the distribution of River Waters and Chandigarh etc. In order to resolve the dispute, the Central Government constituted a Cabinet sub-committee of five Central ministers to negotiate with the Akalis. Leaders of major political parties, such as L.K. Advani, Madhu Dandvate etc were also roped in. A meeting between this Central team and Shiromani Akali Dal representatives (Surjit Singh Barnala, Balwant Singh and Ravi Inder Singh) was held in New Delhi on 8 February, 1983. S. Parkash Singh Badal and S. Gurcharan Singh Tohra stayed back in Kapurthala House and guided the SAD team. This meeting remained inconclusive as there was stalemate regarding river-waters and the meeting was adjourned to 10th February.
On 9 February, 1983, Kanwar Sain, ex-chairman of Central Water and Power Commission, gave a press interview which appeared in the Press on 10th February 1983. He stated that Akali demand for reopening the whole river-water issue was fully justified and that even the Agreement of 29 January, 1955 should be re-opened. He also stated that the Agreement of 29 January 1955 was drafted by him and that he had given a note on the file, "Realities about the assessment of requirements may be different." He further stated that 24.3.1976 Award of Prime Minister, giving 3.5 MAF water each to Punjab and Haryana was not fair to Punjab. Punjab Today is in possession of the press interview appearing in the Indian Express dated 10th February, 1983).
It may be mentioned here that Kanwar Sain was one of the top most and renowned irrigation engineers of India and retired as Chairman of the Central Water and Power Commission. He belonged to Haryana and after retirement, Bansi Lal, Chief Minister of Haryana, appointed him as Chairman of Haryana Development Board. He also remained Chief Engineer of Rajasthan Canal. He himself admitted that for these reasons he had soft corner for Haryana and Rajasthan. In spite of this, he boldly stated true facts and demanded justice for Punjab.
In the meeting held on 10th February, 1983, the facts stated by Shri Kanwar Sain were brought to the notice of Central team. The meeting ended in stalemate and no meeting between this Central Committee and SAD Committee was ever held after that.
Punjab's Requirements of Water
Total net area under cultivation in Punjab is 1.05 crore acres. About 98% of this area is irrigated and double-cropped. Total cropped area of about 2 crore acres requires more than 5 crore acre feet of water annually. We have 85 lakh acres under wheat and 68 lakh acres under rice besides area under other crops.
As per recommendations of PAU, rice requires 20 irrigations 3-inch deep. Thus rice alone requires 20 x 3 inch = 5 acre feet of water per acre of rice. Total requirement of water for rice alone thus comes to 340 lakh acre feet.
Punjab fulfills its requirements of water through canals, rain water and underground water.
Canals and rains account for about 2.5 crore acre feet of water (25 MAF) while the rest of 2.5 crore acre feet is ground water pumped by about 13 lakh tubewells. Annual recharge is about 1.5 crore acre feet only, leaving a deficit of one crore acre feet annually. This excess extraction of one crore acre feet ground water results in depletion of ground water by about one foot annually.
It may also be pointed out here that in the Conference of 29 January, 1955, Punjab had put its demand of Ravi-Beas Waters at 59 lakh acre feet only (5.9 MAF) and PEPSU at 13 lakh acre feet, i.e. a total of 72 lakh acre feet (7.2 MAF) which was readily conceded. Shri S.L. Malhotra was the Chief Engineer-cum-Secretary Irrigation to Govt. of Punjab at that time, who worked out this requirement and there was no separate (IAS) Secretary Irrigation in those days. Not an inch of present Haryana's cultivated area of 88 lakh acres was included in the 7.2 MAF demand of Punjab. Had Haryana areas also been included in Punjab demand, not a drop of surplus water would have been available for allocation to Rajasthan and the whole of 15.58 MAF of surplus Ravi-Beas waters would have been utilized in Punjab itself and there would not have been any Rajasthan Canal.
Depletion of Ground Water
As stated above, Punjab is extracting 2.5 crore acre-feet of under-ground water annually. Annual recharge of ground water is only about 1.5 crore acre feet, thus leaving a gap of about one crore acre feet which results in water-table going down by one foot annually. If Punjab had not supplied one crore acre feet of canal water annually to Rajasthan, there would not have arisen any necessity of pumping out this much underground water and annual recharge and drawl would have balanced each other. There would not have been any depletion of ground water which has now assumed alarming proportions.
According to a recent report of NASA (National Aeronautical and Space Administration of US) published in the August issue of the journal Nature, "Groundwater beneath North India decreases by one foot every year and if measures are not soon taken to ensure sustainable groundwater usage, consequences may include a collapse of agricultural output, severe shortage of drinking water, conflict and suffering and it can take thousands of years for aquifers to recharge."
Experts say that wars in twenty-first century would be over water. Time is not far away when Punjab will face severe shortage of water even for drinking purposes. Giving one crore acre feet of water from Punjab rivers to Rajasthan is the only cause for this alarming depletion of ground water.
Rajasthan Canal- Government of India's Brainwave
Before 1948 nobody had ever thought of constructing a Canal for taking Punjab's Rivers Waters to the deserts of Rajasthan. In 1940s and 1950s, there was great shortage of food grains in India and huge quantities of food grains had to be imported every year. In order to boost food grains production, the Government of India launched "grow-more-food campaign". Efforts were made all over India to bring every available strip of vacant land under cultivation. An idea struck the Govt. of India and the Planning Commission that millions of acres of vacant desert land in Rajasthan could be brought under cultivation if water for irrigation could be arranged.
In May 1948, India and Pakistan had signed an agreement regarding Ravi-Beas and Sutlej rivers of Punjab by which East Punjab's exclusive rights over the waters of these rivers were more or less accepted.
Those were the days of single crop and there was no intensive agriculture. Knowing fully well that Punjab had no ready-made plans to immediately utilize these waters, Government of India found a golden opportunity to give these waters to Rajasthan.
While giving approval to the construction of Harike Headworks in 1949, the Government of India asked Punjab Government to make provision for a 18,500 cusec canal for Rajasthan, which the Punjab Government obediently did.
This was about six years before the 'Agreement' of 29 January, 1955. Harike Headworks were constructed in 1950-52 with a provision of 18,500 cusec canal for Rajasthan. Even the Rajasthan Government then had no idea or any hope of getting Ravi-Beas Waters and even refused to carry out any survey and the Centre had to do it at its own expense.
U.S.A. Bureau of Reclamation whose advice was sought by Government of India regarding Rajasthan Canal Project, advised against the construction of Rajasthan Canal. It advised that instead of wasting water in far away Thar desert, it should be utilized nearer home, where it would produce more food and fibre. However, the Centre ignored this advice and gave go-ahead to the Project.
Value of Water
In his monumental work, "The Indus Rivers", Prof. Aloys Arthur Michael of Yale University, U.S.A., says, "As in most sub-humid regions of the earth, water in the Indus Basin is more valuable than land. Had it not been for the modern irrigation network developed after the annexation of Sind and Punjab to British India in the 1840s, much of what is now the economic heart of West Pakistan would have remained essentially a semi-desert." The same applies to Rajasthan and parts of Haryana.
Only recently, the Central Water and Power Commission issued a press-note stating that iron Gates of Madhopur Headworks had become very old with the result that 100 cusec water was leaking through these gates everyday and it was going waste to Pakistan. They put the annual value of this 100 cusecs at Rs 100 crores, which loss Punjab was suffering every year. Punjab is giving one crore acre feet or say 50 lakh cusecs of water to Rajasthan every year (1 cusec day=2 acre feet). On this basis, value of this much water comes to about Rs 14,000 crores annually. The total value of 40 crore acre feet of water supplied to Rajasthan during the last 40 years would thus come to Rs 5,60,000 crores.
Loss on Account of Electricity and Diesel etc.
The biggest loss suffered by Punjab for supplying one crore acre feet canal water to Rajasthan is that it has to extract this much extra ground water for its own use. There are more than 13 lakh electric and diesel operated tubewells in Punjab which pump out about 2.50 crore acre feet of ground water every year. As per PSER Commission, electricity consumed by these tubewells is more than 1000 crore units every year and value of this electricity at the rate of Rs 2.50 per unit comes to about Rs 2600 crores. However, as Punjab purchases electricity from other states at the rate of Rs 7 or 8 per unit, at this rate cost of this much electricity would come to more than Rs 7000 crores. Diesel operated tubewell is 4/5 times more costly than electric one. Due to shortage of electricity, many farmers use generators as well. Taking all these factors into consideration, if we assume Rs 5 per unit as the cost of electricity, the total cost for 1000 crore units of electricity would come to Rs 5000 crores.
Since Punjab is supplying one crore acre feet of Canal water to Rajasthan every year, it has to use 400 crores unit of electricity worth Rs 2000 crores every year for extracting this much ground water (40% of the 2.5 crore acre feet). Total amount spent by Punjab for pumping out 40 crore acre feet of water during the last 40 years would thus come to Rs 80,000 crores.
Had Punjab used one crore acre feet of its river water, the necessity of extracting this much ground water would not have arisen. This annual loss of 400 crore units of electricity is all due to supplying one crore acre feet of canal water to Rajasthan every year.
The cost of boring and reboring tubewells, electric motors, diesel engines, generators, and other associated machinery and labour etc would be in addition to this. Out of 2.5 crore acre feet of ground water, one crore acre feet (i.e. 40 %) could also be debited to Rajasthan and 40 % of all expense on ground water could be debited to that state.
Punjab would have become top-most industrial state of the country if it had used this additional 400 crores units of electricity (free or subsidized) for its industry. And capital and industrialists would have come running to Punjab. Instead of being predominantly agricultural state, Punjab would have become a predominantly industrial state.
Clearly, it is the legal right and the bounden duty of the Punjab Government and all the political parties of Punjab to recover this cost from Rajasthan. Is Punjab ready to take the step? It must.