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Sardar Gurdev Singh, MA, LLB., IAS (retd), has been a keen student of Punjab’s river water issues for over half a century, initially as a responsible citizen, and later in his official work in the field as well as at the Punjab State headquarters. This has given him a rare insight into the various aspects of the problems.
For clear comprehension of the subject he has extensively researched legal and technical literature on riparian rights to waters in India and abroad. He has attended many a seminar on this theme, and for proper appraisal of the problem, he has visited several riparian areas in various continents. In the Punjab he has actually stridden along almost the entire length of the rivers Ravi, Beas and Satluj from their snowy origins to the last tip of Indian territory where they roll into Pakistan. This background makes him eminently qualified to deal with technical, legal, cultural, civilizational, historic, emotional, economic and administrative nuances of riparian waters problems, especially those of Ravi, Beas and Satluj, whose waters are sought to be carried to non-riparian territories, in violation of unambiguous provisidns of India’s Constitution.
The brief but very informative account set out in this book will give the readers a clear insight into various aspects of the Punjab river waters controversy.
The Scramble for Punjab Waters is a portrait with focus on the central issues involved in the so-called dispute on Punjab River Waters. In this informal and well-researched book, the author offers an overview of the political, religions, cultural and economic conflicts that led to fragmentation of the region in the past. He looks at the present situation in the context of this background and the geographical realities, without which understanding of the problem is not possible.
Sardar Gurdev Singh has succinctly and pithily given a compact and eloquent account of the scramble over Punjab river waters on the part of constitutionally unauthorized claimants on the one hand, and the unfortunate failure on the part of authorities to deal with the issue impartially on the other, which led to the present impasse, festering ill will among the friendly people of two strategic states in the North-West of India.
I am sure the reader will greatly enhance his knowledge of various aspects of the problem by going through this treatise. Sardar Gurdev Singh deserves sincere appreciations for devoting his time and energy to the noble task of writing this book. The Institute of Sikh Studies has rendered a great service in publishing it in a beautiful format. Sardar Gurdev Singh has not only raised funds for publishing this book, he has also dedicated the entire sale proceeds of its first edition to the Institute of Sikh Studies, which has always been in the forefront in defence of righteousness.
The publication is very timely, and will serve as a reference book. It will surely help in the solution of the Punjab River Waters problem and in bringing about understanding, amity and goodwill among the people of the neighbouring States, putting an end to the needless and damaging rhetoric from contending parties.
Formerly Agri Economist
FAO of the United Nations
Chandigarh: January 16, 2004