ON THE day the Punjab Assembly passed a resolution not to share a drop of water with anyone outside Punjab, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who had been silent on the water sharing issue so far, said “Punjab was the elder brother of Haryana and should look out for the interests of the younger brother”.
Khattar described the statement by his Punjab counterpart Parkash Singh Badal on returning the land acquired for construction of the Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal to those who had owned it as as “unfortunate”.
The canal was mooted for water sharing among Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and Rajasthan but was unilaterally called off by Punjab in 2004. The matter is before the Supreme Court.
In a statement issued today, Khattar said Badal’s statement after the Supreme Court had begun hearing the Presidential Reference on the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act, 2004, was “disappointing and driven by purely political considerations”.
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“I have great respect for Mr Badal who is an experienced leader. Being the elder brother of Haryana, Punjab should protect the interests of the younger brother”, the Chief Minister added.
Khattar said he was confident that Haryana would get every drop of its legitimate share of river waters. The SYL was the lifeline of Haryana farmers, he said, and the state government was committed to doing everything possible to make it carry Haryana’s share of water at the earliest. The waters issue would be taken up during an all-party meeting on March 12.
The BJP government in Haryana is getting little support from the Punjab BJP, which is part of the ruling coalition in Punjab and has said it will press the Centre to take a pro-Punjab stand.
Earlier, Irrigation Minister O P Dhankar said Haryana would fight for its share of water.
Talking to The Indian Express, Dhankar said, “We had already moved the Supreme Court against the old resolution of the Punjab Assembly. A one-sided decision had been taken to annul water-sharing pact with Haryana which could not have been done. It is against the Constitution. A decision on this would now be taken by the Supreme Court where hearing on the case is on. An attempt is being made to create such an atmosphere before the decision is announced.”
Dhankar further said, “We are fighting to get justice. The farmers of Haryana have a right over the water. We should get justice. Punjab should act as big brother and give Haryana its share.”
The Irrigation Minister added that this year the flow of water in Yamuna river was less. “Haryana is also supplying water to Delhi. The reduced flow of water will pose a problem.”