SYL row: Amarinder requests Modi to facilitate talks with Haryana
Welcoming the Supreme Court’s decision to give two months to resolve the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal row, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday urged the Centre to facilitate dialogue with Haryana for an early resolution of the issue.
Reiterating that the problem could be solved only through negotiations, Amarinder said while Punjab did not want to deprive anyone of water, the “critical shortage” of water in the state prevented it from sharing this vital resource.
He said the state was taking all possible steps to conserve its depleting groundwater and had also set up a separate department for groundwater management to assess the availability of water.
The CM said water in Punjab rivers had declined over the years due to faster melting of glaciers in the higher reaches of the Himalayas.
He also welcomed the SC’s directive to stop people from agitating on the SYL issue saying neither Punjab nor Haryana could afford any violence over the issue.
What will Amarinder negotiate: Sukhbir
Reacting to Amarinder’s statement, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal questioned if the CM was serious about protecting the rights of Punjab.
“He should unequivocally declare no SYL, no water to Haryana immediately. By welcoming the Supreme Court’s order, the CM has sent out a message that the waters of Punjab can be put on the negotiating table. Nothing can be more absurd than this. What will he negotiate? Does he want to sell out the interests of Punjab,” Sukhbir said.
He added, “Our government had returned the land acquired for the canal back to farmers. What is left to negotiate.”
In a separate statement, former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said, “The SC must first of all determine which state had the right on the waters of any river. Can non-riparian states can also have a claim on the waters of rivers that do not even touch its boundaries. Allotting water to non-riparian states would lead to a situation of utter constitutional anarchy across the country.”
Punjab will turn into desert in two decades: Patiala MP
Patiala MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi said on Tuesday that the Supreme Court’s (SC’s) comments and judgment on the SYL issue will add to the woes of Punjab and its people.
“The judgment appears to be defying the application of reason and logic. Punjab is sitting at the edge of turning into a desert by the next two decades, because of several arbitrary and unconstitutional decisions foisted on it by the Centre,” he added.
He went on to that even for a layman, the decision to construct the SYL canal, before deciding whether water could, at all be circulated through this disputed canal, has come as an utter shock and a blow to the interests of Punjab.
“Even if we had enough water to share with anybody, it was our right and prerogative to decide to whom and at what rate this water was to be shared with other states on humanitarian grounds,” Dr Gandhi said.
He called upon chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh to call an all-party meeting to safeguard the interests of Punjab. “The issue of water may be politics for some politicians, but for people of Punjab, it is a question of survival, livelihood and civilisation,” he said.
Resolve issue or pass resolution against SC order
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Tuesday demanded a special session of the assembly if Punjab, Haryana and the Centre fail to resolve the SYL issue within two months as directed by the Supreme Court.
In a statement, AAP leader Sukhpal Khaira said the Punjab assembly should pass a resolution on the lines of Karnataka in Cauvery water case. Urging both the Congress and SAD-BJP alliance to resolve the issue within the stipulated time, Khaira said there is a Congress government in Punjab and SADBJP alliance rule Haryana and the Centre.
“Hence, the onus of resolving the issue lies with these parties. In case the Congress and the SAD-BJP alliance fail to find an amicable solution to SYL, a special session of state assembly should be summoned to pass a unanimous resolution,” said Khaira.
He added the Karnataka assembly had passed a resolution in defiance of the Supreme Court order to release 6,000 cusecs of water from Cauvery to Tamil Nadu.
The state government too should make the legislators take a stand against an unfavourable SC verdict, he said