Soon after the apex court directive on completing SYL, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar appealed to his Punjab counterpart, CM Amarinder Singh, to take immediate steps to ensure construction of the SYL canal in Punjab territory. Amarinder, however, again urged the Centre to facilitate a dialogue with Haryana for an early resolution of the issue.
In his reaction, Khattar said, “I thank the Hon. Supreme Court for its orders on the SYL Canal issue. The apex court has done justice. I appeal to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh ji, for his co-operation in construction of the SYL canal on Punjab territory for the benefit of farmers in both states.” Amarinder, meanwhile, welcomed the SC’s decision “to give two months’ time to resolve the festering SYL issue”.
Reiterating that the problem could be solved only through negotiations, he said that while Punjab did not want to deprive anyone of this essential commodity, the critical shortage of water in the state prevented it from sharing this vital resource. “The state is taking all possible steps to conserve the depleting groundwater and had also set up separate Department for Groundwater Management to assess the availability of water and adequate steps for its conservation,” he added.
Punjab CM said that water in Punjab rivers had declined over the years due to the melting glaciers in the higher reaches. He appealed to the Centre to initiate talks at the earliest to help find an amicable solution to the problem. Amarinder also welcomed the Supreme Court’s directive to stop all people agitations on SYL, saying neither Punjab nor Haryana could afford to spiral into violence over the issue.
Leader of Opposition in Haryana Assembly Abhay Singh Chautala, however, said that people had right to stage dharnas in a democracy. Asked about the SC order, Chautala said, “The SC has not banned dharnas, but has asked the state authorities to see that no such agitations happen.”