The BJP government in Haryana is learnt to have decided to file a fresh suit in the Supreme Court (SC) to declare the Termination of Agreements Act passed by the Punjab assembly null and void, which would pave the way for implementation of the two judgments of the apex court for completion of the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal and enable the carriage of Haryana’s full share of 3.5 million-acre-feet (MAF) of surplus Ravi Beas waters.
Sources informed HT that the government had taken the decision after obtaining legal opinion -- as a Presidential reference was already pending in the context -- and that the Haryana government would also move for early hearing of the Presidential reference by the apex court.
The issue as to whether or not the government should file a fresh suit in the apex court had been hanging fire for the past several months, but the government has now decided to go ahead with it.
The central government had, on July 22, 2004, sought opinion of the apex court on the validity of the Termination of Agreements Act through a Presidential reference under Section 143 of the Constitution.
The Presidential reference was heard by a five-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of India on August 2, 2004.
The matter was again heard on February 28, 2005 when it was ordered to list the case for hearing.
Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal imbroglio history
An agreement was signed in 1955 dividing 15.85 MAF of surplus Ravi-Beas waters between Punjab, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir.
After reorganization of the Punjab into the two separate states of Punjab and Haryana on November 1, 1966, disputes arose between the two on water sharing.
The Government of India (GOI) determined the dispute on March 24, 1976, allocating 3.5 MAF waters to Haryana.
Haryana suggested SYL canal be constructed and it started its construction and completed it in June, 1980 while Punjab did not start it.
In December 1981, an agreement was signed between the chief ministers of partner states in the presence of then prime minister, Indira Gandhi, allocating 4.22 and 3.5 MAF respectively, to Punjab and Haryana.
Punjab started construction of SYL canal on its territory in 1982.
“The Punjab Settlement” accord was signed between then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, then president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, on July 24, 1985 according to which the construction of the SYL canal was to be done by August 15, 1986. The accord provided review of water allocation by a Tribunal.
The Ravi and Beas Waters Tribunal in April, 1986, decided the allocation on January 30, 1987 when Punjab and Haryana were allocated 5.0 and 3.83 MAF of surplus Ravi Beas Water, respectively. The award of the Tribunal is yet to be notified.
Punjab stopped work on the canal in July, 1990 when about 95 % of the work was complete.
Haryana moved SC in 1996 seeking direction to the Punjab and the Union of India to complete the canal which the SC accepted and ordered Punjab on January 15, 2002 to complete the canal within one year.
On August 13, 2003, Haryana filed an execution application seeking execution of SC decree. The SC on June 4, 2004 ordered Punjab for completion of the remaining portion of SYL canal.
However, on 12 July, 2004, the Punjab Assembly passed the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act 2004 annulling all inter-state agreements signed by the State of Punjab relating to sharing of Ravi and Beas waters.