Punjab loses out as Attorney General gives Jammu and Kashmir a free hand in construction of the Ravi canal
AG's approval in hand, J&K to go ahead with the construction of the Ravi canal from Basantpur up to the inflow of the Ranjit Sagar Dam reservoir.
SRINAGAR: Now that the Attorney General has opined that Punjab cannot object to it, the Jammu and Kashmir government is planning to go ahead with the construction of the Ravi canal from Basantpur up to the inflow of the RanjitSagar Dam reservoir to lift water for irrigating 1.33 lakh acres in Jammu.
The state had approached the AG in February seeking his opinion whether the project was feasible given that the Punjab government, which owns Ranjit Sagar, had annulled water-sharing agreements with all states in July 2004.
Last week, Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati opined that the state was free to go ahead with the project, as Punjab government could not legally object to it. People familiar with the matter said the AG expressed serious concern over the denial of due share of Ravi water to Jammu and Kashmir "without any legal ground".
"I agree with the conclusion drawn by the former Chief Justice of India, Justice V N Khare and former Solicitor General of India, Amrinder Saran that there is no legal hurdle in construction of balanced portion of canal and lifting of water by J&K from upstream of Ranjit Sagar dam," Mr Vahanvati
Law ministry officials are hoping that Punjab will react by initiating dialogue once the J&K state cabinet gives the go-ahead for allocating 250 crore towards the canal. "A successful dialogue will help Punjab salvage the Shahpur Kandi dam," an official in the ministry said. "I have a gut feeling that they will react positively this time," he added.
After Punjab annulled the water agreements with neighbouring states, it approached J&K for land and support, a request that was politely rejected. Last year, when the J&K government pulled out of the Shahpur Kandi project, the centre refused 2,290 crore funding to Punjab, making it a non-starter. J&K and Punjab have a water dispute running for five years now.