Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana to iron out differences between the two states over the construction of Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal. Punjab’s lawyer, A K Ganguly, told the Supreme Court this during a hearing in the case on Tuesday. Attorney general K K Venugopal said that he was not told about such a meeting and that it was good if it was happening.
“I was not informed by the water resources secretary about any such meeting, but now my friend here says it is happening. If so, it is good.’’ The court gave two more months to enable the Centre to negotiate with the two states for its earlier decree to be executed in the case. It pulled up Punjab for non-construction of the canal passing through the state after Venugopal pointed out that the work on the project in Haryana had been completed.
“If Haryana has done its part as per the decree, why should Punjab not do?’’ Justice Dipak Mishra asked. The court clarified that the extended time did not grant Punjab any liberty for procrastination, but was meant to arrive at an amicable settlement. The judge retorted saying that “it will facilitate the negotiation” when Punjab’s counsel contended that it will create problems in talks. He turned to Venugopal and added: “You see the attitude. Or else you will have to initiate steps (to execute the order).’’
The court shot down objections that the original agreement was executed with the intention of distributing excess water and that the situation had changed as the flow had reduced now. “Let the construction of the canal be completed. Water issue we will see later.’’ The court repeatedly pointed out that its orders were meant to be executed. “We have held that when this court passes an order, it will have to be executed…,” Justice Mishra said. Venugopal explained that it was a “highly emotive” issue.
He added that the Centre was doing its best to get the two states to agree to negotiate. “The minister for water resources is having number of meetings with the competent authorities in the two states.’’ The court directed authorities to ensure that both states ensure that there are no protests over the issue when the matter is sub-judice. This came after one of the lawyers pointed out that an opposition party had called for protests. The court underlined that citizens of the country must realise that when a matter is in court, there cannot be any agitation in the matter.