A day after the Supreme Court directed Punjab government to maintain status quo on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal land, the Punjab assembly Friday unanimously passed a resolution, brought by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, stating that “the SYL canal will not be allowed to be constructed at any cost”.
The resolution states that Punjab is facing a serious crisis regarding its share of waters and the state does not have even a drop of water to share with others. It goes on to state that there was never any need to construct the SYL canal nor is there any need today, and the House unanimously resolves that the canal will not be allowed to be constructed at any cost.
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As soon as the House reconvened for the Budget session, Badal made an impassioned speech before moving the resolution. He said he would make “as big a sacrifice as is required” rather than allow the SYL canal since it deprives the people of Punjab of their legitimate rights over their river waters, in defiance of the nationally and internationally accepted riparian principle.
Referring to the status quo ordered by the Supreme Court, Badal said Punjab will not accept any decision from any quarter which ignores the riparian principle and ignores the rights of Punjabis. He appealed to Punjabis to keep aside their differences and prepare themselves for tough battles ahead. He said the people of Punjab and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) have made sacrifices in the past too on the river water issue.
The Chief Minister said attempts to foist a decision on construction of the SYL canal will not be tolerated by Punjab.
Leader of Opposition Charanjit Singh Channi of the Congress also supported the resolution and it was passed unanimously by the House.
When he was asked later if the assembly resolution was in contradiction to the Supreme Court directions, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said, “It was the resolution of the House.”
The Punjab government has returned the amount of Rs 191.75 crore which was paid by Haryana for construction of the canal. A cheque for the amount, along with a letter written by the Chief Minister, was sent to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar Thursday evening.
The Punjab assembly’s moves over the SYL canal have upset legislators of the Haryana assembly who share the assembly complex. A group of INLD legislators, led by Ajay Chautala, tried to barge into the Punjab assembly Thursday while it was in session and had to be restrained by the watch and ward staff.