SYL canal completion: Haryana may consult attorney general on SC observations regarding CM’s meeting
The Haryana government may consult attorney general KK Venugopal to decide further course of action with regards to the implementation of Supreme Court’s January 15, 2002, and June 4, 2004, orders to complete the remaining portion of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal by Punjab.
While the apex court during a July 28 hearing observed that “let the chief ministers of both the states meet to find out the solution if any, else there is a decree which has to be executed”, the written SC orders, made public on Thursday, stating that “a meeting of various stakeholders be convened at the high level and the outcome of the same, if any, be informed to this court” has created a predicament for the state government.
“Since there seems to be some variance in the oral and written orders of the apex court, we are contemplating taking the advice of the attorney general who represented the Centre in the virtual court to clarify the SC order,” said an official.
Advocate general BR Mahajan, however, said that Haryana’s law officer Anish Gupta who was present in the virtual court during the July 28 hearing has clearly conveyed the oral observations of the apex court regarding convening of a meeting of chief ministers of both the states.
Mahajan said in his opinion, a meeting of chief ministers of Haryana and Punjab has to be convened to find out a solution. The outcome of the meeting has to be indicated to the apex court on the next date of hearing in the third week of August so that matter can proceed further for execution of the decree.
Additional advocate general (AAG) Anish Gupta in a communication to the advocate general said that during the virtual hearing, the attorney general informed the court that three meetings have taken place between Central, Haryana and Punjab government officials since the order of July 9, 2019. He also sought three more months for negotiations.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, who appeared for Haryana, however, opposed the adjournment and said the attorney general is repeatedly seeking time since 2017 and no further progress with regard to construction of SYL has been made. “The court made a query as to who had participated in the last three meetings. The attorney general informed that the chief secretaries of both the states and the secretary, Union ministry of water resources, had participated in the meeting along with other officials. Then the court observed that let the chief ministers of both the states meet to find out the solution, if any, else there is a decree that has to be executed. List the matter in the third week of August. In the meanwhile, CMs of both the states meet and try to find out a solution, if possible,” the law officer has communicated to the advocate general.
When the court asked the counsels appearing for the parties whether they should record the aforesaid observation in the order, senior advocate Shyam Divan, attorney general and Punjab’s counsel, said there was no need to record the same as they will convey the observation to the states concerned, the AAG has conveyed to the AG.
Meanwhile, the Union water resources ministry has recorded Punjab government’s unwillingness to complete the canal after several rounds of meetings between central, Haryana and Punjab governments in 2019 remained inconclusive.
Parleys were held on the orders of the Supreme Court to work out a solution to implement apex court’s judgments to complete the remaining portion of the SYL canal in Punjab.
Top Haryana officials who attended the meetings said the Central ministry has recorded Punjab’s refusal to complete the canal in the minutes of the meetings held between the officials of the two states and the Centre. “Punjab has clearly refused to complete the canal on the pretext of non-availability of spare water,” said a Haryana official.
Punjab’s water resources minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, meanwhile, said, “The matter is in the knowledge our chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and he will take it up with his Haryana counterpart. Our government is fixing up a schedule for a meeting with the neighbouring state.”