The Supreme Court hearing on the Presidential reference on the validity of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, is to conclude on May 9, and an apprehensive chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has asked people to prepare for an intense struggle to save the state’s right to its waters.
Badal said it during sangat darshan in his Lambi constituency on Tuesday. In 2004, the Punjab assembly in the tenure of former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh had passed a law to annul water-sharing agreements with other states. The same year, through a Presidential reference, the Centre had sought opinion from the Supreme Court on the legislation’s validity. In 2015, the BJP-led Haryana government had filed a petition in Supreme Court to seek early hearing of the Presidential reference.
The Punjab chief minister said the issue of river-water sharing was associated with not only farmers but also the state’s development and prosperity. “If the state is robbed of its waters, its fertile lands will turn into desert. Not only the farmers but also the entire economy of the state will be in doldrums,” said Badal.
He cited riparian rules to uphold Punjab’s exclusive rights over its waters and said “there’s not even a drop to spare”. Blaming the Congress for the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal chaos, the Punjab CM said this party’s successive governments had a history of divesting people of their rightful share of river waters. “Former CM Amarinder Singh was in the forefront when then prime minister Indira Gandhi performed the ground-breaking ceremony of the canal at Kapuri village in Patiala district in 1982,” he claimed.
He even accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of double standards on the SYL issue, saying the evidence lay in the affidavit that the AAP’s state government of Delhi had filed against the Punjab government.
Jobless linemen interrupt Badal
Unemployed linemen interrupted the chief minister’s sangat darshan for the third consecutive day at Roranwali village. Demanding joining letters, they started raising slogans against the Punjab government soon after chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had concluded a press briefing. Police arrested three members of the protesting group. On Monday, a member of a lineman’s family was caught trying to throw his turban at the CM.