Row over SYL canal deepens; Punjab Assembly passes resolution, Haryana to move SC
The Supreme Court has directed status quo on land meant for Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal after Haryana alleged that attempts have been made to alter its use by levelling it.
Chandigarh: The row over SYL canal further deepened on Friday as the Punjab Assembly unanimously passed a resolution against its construction saying the state will not allow it "at any cost" while Haryana decided to move the Supreme Court for its neighbour's "violation" of its order of status quo.
Cutting across partylines, the Punjab Assembly passed a resolution against SYL construction, saying the state does not have water from Ravi and Beas rivers to share with Haryana.
The development assumes significance as it came a day after the Supreme Court directed status quo on land meant for Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal after Haryana alleged that attempts have been made to alter its use by levelling it.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who moved the resolution, said: "We will not accept under any circumstances any decision coming from any quarters which seeks to deprive our people of their legitimate rights over Punjab's river waters by violating the nationally and internationally-accepted riparian principle."
The resolution declared that "the SYL canal will not be allowed to be constructed at any cost and under any circumstances."
Badal said his state is facing a "crisis of water" and does not have even one drop to share with other states.
"In view of this, neither was there ever a need to construct SYL canal then nor it is there now," he told the House.
Badal said that he "would rather make the supreme sacrifice than allow the SYL canal to be built as it deprives the people of Punjab of their legitimate rights over their river waters, in brazen defiance of the nationally and internationally-accepted riparian principle."
Committing his party Shiromani Akali Dal and government to the strongest measures needed in order to protect the interests of the people of Punjab, Badal appealed to Punjabis to prepare themselves for tough battles ahead for the purpose.
Badal minced no words while declaring that he would "protect and safeguard with all the might at his disposal the rivers' water of the state".
On the other hand, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar described the resolution passed by Punjab assembly against construction of SYL canal as "gross violation" of the orders of the Supreme Court.
The Chief Minister was referring to the Supreme Court ordering status quo on the issue of SYL canal.
He said Haryana the state government would move the the Supreme Court presenting its view along with the resolution passed by Punjab assembly today.
Badal said that there was a wide consensus that Punjab did not have even a single drop of water to spare for any other state.
"In view of that, there never had been any need nor is there one now to construct the SYL canal. Neither is it even possible to do so. I wish to state in most unequivocal terms that we will not allow this canal to be constructed at any cost," declared a charged-up Punjab Chief Minister.
Congress leader Charanjit Singh Channi, who is Leader of the Opposition, and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Madan Mohan Mittal from the BJP endorsed Badal's view.
Channi said that Congress will always stand at the forefront to protect the interests of people of Punjab. "Mr Badal, we are all with you on this issue," he said.
Mittal, a senior BJP leader, said it is SAD-BJP government which has always stood up for the interest of Punjab.
He said the state is facing shortage of water and there is no need to construct SYL.
Khattar, while talking to the media after Haryana Assembly session, said, "it appeared that the issue now raised by Punjab government aimed at gaining mileage during coming Assembly Elections."
However, he said the issue belonged to Haryana and not to Punjab as the Presidential reference had been pending for the last several years and Haryana government had pleaded for its early hearing.
The CM assured the House that Haryana would do everything possible to get its share of Ravi-Beas waters through SYL canal.
He said that SYL canal is a lifeline for farmers of Haryana and BJP has always been serious on this issue and six of its MLAs had resigned nine months before the elections, he said.
Taking a dig at Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Khattar said the move to pass a Bill to de-notify farmers land acquired for construction of SYL canal could also be an excuse of Badal to "leave" the government in the midst due to "fear" of upcoming assembly elections so that he might contest the polls from outside.
Khattar's cabinet colleague and Haryana Agriculture Minister O P Dhankar charged Punjab with crossing all limits and lacking faith in the country's judicial system.
He said Punjab Assembly's resolution against the construction of SYL canal in Punjab for carrying Haryana's share of Ravi Beas was despite the SC having directed to maintain status quo.
"I feel Punjab government has crossed all its limits and doesn't have faith in the country's judicial system. It has become judge on its own," Dhankar told reporters.
"This move of the Punjab Assembly was to deprive Haryana of its rightful share in river water," he said.
"This is highhanded approach of Punjab," he alleged adding Haryana will bring this issue to the notice of the Centre and the Supreme Court.