The Chief Ministers of Punjab, Haryana and the Union Minister of Water Resources are likely to meet to resolve the SYL issue in near future following the directions of the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Haryana Advocate General Baldev Mahajan told The Indian Express that a high-level meeting will be convened keeping in view the directions of the apex court which has asked the both states and Centre to resolve the matter by September 3 which is next date of hearing. “We will wait copy of the apex court’s order before moving further,” said Mahajan.
Need for bridge over troubled waters
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, whose government had passed The Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, abrogating the December 1981 inter-state agreement on the Satluj-Yamuna Link canal with Haryana and Rajasthan, is unlikely to give an inch in this war over water, especially in light of the depleting groundwater levels in the state. An emotive issue in Punjab, the SYL canal had fuelled the Dharam Yudh of 1982. The Centre should mediate to work out an agreement acceptable to both the states keeping their present financial and water health in mind before it becomes a tool in the hands of trouble-mongers.
Hours after the Supreme Court’s directions Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, in an informal meeting, Tuesday late discussed the issue with his Cabinet colleagues.
Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Krishan Kumar Bedi, who was present in the meeting, said that the Chief Minister will make a plan after discussing the issue with senior officers.
“The CMs and the officers of Punjab and Haryana and the officers of the Central government will jointly convene a meeting and discuss the order of the court, through which agency to carry out the work of the SYL,” said the minister. “This issue is important to us and we have right to have our share of water,” he added.
Haryana has been seeking Centre’s intervention to implement the Supreme Court’s directions to complete the construction of the SYL canal. In a letter to the prime minister in 2017, the Haryana CM had urged him to issue appropriate directions to the Union Ministry of Water Resources in this regard.
“As you are aware, non-completion of a small portion of the SYL canal in Punjab has been depriving Haryana of its full share of 3.5 MAF water in Ravi-Beas waters for many decades. It is most unfortunate that our farmers of over one million hectares of parched fields and inhabitants of thousands of our villages are being forced to wait for water despite the decree of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 15th January, 2002. The entire nation is aware of the unconstitutional methods adopted by Punjab including the passage of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 and the Punjab Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal Land (Transfer of Proprietary Rights) Bill, 2016 to impede the construction work.”