Supreme Court reserves verdict on Ghaggar river bundh

The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its verdict on Punjab's application to restrain Haryana from strengthening the Ghaggar river bundh . Punjab filed this application in its main suit opposing construction of the Hansi-Butana canal.

A Bench of Justice J. M. Panchal and Justice H. L. Gokhale reserved the verdict at the end of arguments from counsel for both parties. Senior counsel Harish Salve and senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan appearing for Punjab strongly opposed the work on the bundh , contending that such a construction would prevent natural flow of flood waters and result in drowning of 70 of Punjab's villages under eight feet of water.

They questioned Haryana's unilateral action in strengthening the bundh and said it was in violation of cooperative federalism. They argued that strengthening the bundh to save Haryana from flooding would be a grave “nuisance” to Punjab.

However, senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam appearing for Haryana said Punjab's fears were misplaced and its application was misconceived as it had nothing to do with the main suit objecting to the construction of the Hansi-Butana canal. While Haryana cited a Central Water Commission report that said the work would not pose any problem for Punjab, the latter argued that the CWC report was not acceptable to it.

During an earlier hearing, Haryana had argued that Punjab should make better use of the Mirapur drain to deal with flooding in the monsoon. Haryana said the 3.5-km-long toe-wall along the bundh was below the surface and as such would not push back the flood waters to the surface.

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