Haryana on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to put on hold neighbouring Punjab’s decision to return to the owners the land acquired for building the Sutlej Yamuna link (SYL) canal, saying the situation was explosive.
The canal is at the centre of a 50-year-old row between the two neighbouring states over the distribution of surplus waters of Ravi and Beas rivers.
The court, which last week asked Punjab to complete the canal, said it had given its opinion and something must be done. The next hearing will be on November 21.
The 212km-long SYL canal, to be built in both states, was to carry Haryana’s share of water to its “dry and arid” southern part.
Haryana’s move comes two days after the Punjab cabinet decided to denotify 5,376 acres of land acquired for the canal and return it to its original owners free of cost.
Punjab’s move is widely seen as defiance of the Supreme Court which earlier this year asked it to maintain status quo on the canal land. Haryana had petitioned the court after the Punjab assembly unanimously voted to return the land to the owners.
In a blow to Punjab, the court on November 10 ruled that the canal be completed. It struck down a 2004 law that terminated river-water sharing agreements Punjab had with neighbouring states.
While Haryana has completed work on the canal Punjab’s side lies incomplete.
The SYL canal is an emotive issue, with Punjab due for elections in early 2017, parties are expected to harden stand.
The Punjab assembly on Wednesday passed two unanimous resolutions against sharing “even a drop of river waters” with the neighbouring state. One of the resolutions talked about not allowing work on the canal and the other called for Punjab seeking payment for the water supplied so far.