The ruling Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party combine will petition the President of India to stop construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, a move aimed at pitching the contentious interstate water dispute at the centre stage.
The Akali Dal-BJP on Tuesday decided that their cadre will facilitate people, under this campaign, to file a comprehensive petition against the SYL canal construction.
The petition will be handed over to Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal during ‘Paani Bachao, Punjab Bachao (Save Water, Save Punjab)’ mega rally at Moga on December 8, for sending it to President Pranab Mukherjee.
Tough talk by SAD think tank
Declaring that not a single drop of Punjab’s river waters will be allowed to flow out of the state, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Tuesday asked the President to ignore the Supreme Court (SC) advice on the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004.
“Not even a single drop of water belonging to Punjab will be allowed to flow out of the state. Nor will we allow canal construction,” the SAD declared after its core group meeting, chaired by the chief minister here.
Stating that the apex court did not answer any of the issues raised in the Presidential reference, party’s chief spokesperson Harcharan Bains said: “The party is deeply concerned and surprised over the advice of the SC to the President, which completely overlooks the purpose for which the President had sought the apex court’s opinion. The advice does not answer the four issues addressed to it by the President.”
The first of these issues was whether the Termination of Agreements Act 2004 was illegal and unconstitutional. “The apex court did not answer that,” Bains said, adding, “The court was required to give details of provisions to support its opinion. It did not offer any.”
Bains said the opinion finally given by the SC had further deepened the belief that “Punjab cannot get justice from the top constitutional institutions in the country”.
The core committee found the SC’s observation that Punjab should first have sought the setting up of a tribunal as “most intriguing”, because a plea from Punjab requesting precisely the setting up of such a tribunal is already lying before the SC.
Instead of asking Punjab to make such a demand, the court should have decided that petition, said Bains.
“We stand by the Constitution of India, and it guarantees us absolute and exclusive right over the Punjab river waters,” states the SAD’s core panel, which passed a resolution describing the SYL canal construction “unnecessary and not feasible”.