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SYL: Sukhbir cautions Capt against Centre’s ‘trap’, Cong reminds SAD of ‘lost chance’

SYL water wars: The Centre in the hearing of a suit filed by Haryana had, on September 7, sought more time from the Supreme Court to work out a settlement between the two states.

punjab Updated: Sep 12, 2017 11:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Sutlej Yamuna Link canal,SYL issue,Sukhbir Badal
Sukhbir Badal and Sunil Jakhar. (HT Correspondent)

The Centre’s efforts to settle the contentious issue of Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) — a canal to share water between Punjab and Haryana that has not been completed for years — has led to a war of words among leaders of the political parties in Punjab.

A salvo was fired by former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal of the Shiromai Akali Dal (SAD) “cautioning” CM Capt Amarinder Singh of the Congress from falling into the “Centre’s trap”. At this, the state Congress chief, Sunil Jakhar, shot back with the fact that the SAD is a partner on the BJP-led central government and thus should take up the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. SAD’s Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who is Sukhbir’s wife, is a minister in the Union cabinet.

“They (SAD) had the best chance to turn things in favour of Punjab when they were in government (in Punjab), but they preferred for it to linger on, so that the onus would fall on the party that takes charge of the government (after the state polls early this year),” said Jakhar. Castigating the SAD for sticking only to its “one line” of “no water to spare” and not doing anything beyond lip service, he suggested that Sukhbir meets Modi and asks him to “tread with caution” on the issue.

The Centre in the hearing of a suit filed by Haryana had, on September 7, sought more time from the Supreme Court to work out a settlement between the two states. It had earlier come up with a proposal that instead of completing the canal, the Hansi-Butana Bhakra Main Line link canal can be operationalised under the supervision of an independent agency such as the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).

The Centre even suggested that additional water (1000 cusec) be released in Haryana from savings to be effected by Punjab. Haryana has shown reluctance towards the proposal.

Reiterating his party’s stand, SAD’s Sukhbir said, “Punjab does not have a single drop of water to spare. The CM should not fall into the trap of the Centre to negotiate on the matter. In case Punjab government agrees to part with its waters, the people will not spare the Congress,” said Sukhbir.

Jakhar underlined that the Congress during its previous regime in 2004 brought the law to terminate water-sharing agreements.

That law, it must be noted, was declared unconstitutional by the SC last year, sparking the latest round in the protracted political battle over the canal.

Meanwhile, principal opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) too had something to say. “People in Punjab are struggling for drinking water; the state has no water to spare,” said its MP and state unit chief Bhagwant Mann. He suggested constituting a tribunal so to assess how much water the rivers of Punjab have. “Canals, rivers, and subsoil water have dried; how can water be sent outside,” he asked.

First Published: Sep 12, 2017 11:10 IST