Testy waters: Punjab Assembly defies Supreme Court orders; vows to stop construction of SYL canal

The Punjab Assembly on Friday unanimously passed a resolution on the controversial issue of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal, stating that the canal will not be allowed to be constructed at any cost, reported DNA.

Harcharan Singh Bains, Advisor to Punjab Chief Minister, was quoted saying that political parties 'cannot allow it to be built in defiance of the rights of the state over its river waters.'

"The case before the Supreme Court (challenging government of India's power to distribute water between the states) must be decided before SYL canal can even be talked about," he added.

The Supreme Court had stopped Punjab from returning nearly 4,000 acres of land to farmers meant to be used for this canal, which was meant to enable sharing of water with Haryana, reported NDTV.

The apex court fixed the next hearing on 30 March.

On Wednesday, Punjab had returned a cheque of Rs 190 crore to Haryana. Punjab's politicians pledged that they would not allow a single drop of water from the river Sutlej to Haryana, in violation of historic treaties and carefully-configured agreements, reported NDTV. Punjab started filling up canal land with lose soil, to which Haryana government created an uproar.

Testy waters: Punjab Assembly defies Supreme Court orders; vows to stop construction of SYL canal

File photo. AFP

Delhi's role in the water war

Supporting Punjab in its fight was Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who opposed the construction of SYL canal in Punjab and said that the state does not have enough water to share with Haryana. Haryana's irrigation minister OP Dhankar attacked the Delhi CM on Thursday and suggested to "get his own canal constructed for carrying Delhi's share of water".

"Seeing your stand (opposing the construction of SYL canal in Punjab) Haryana will not be able to deliver your share of water in Delhi since you have stood against the interests of the farmers and people of Haryana," he said in a letter to Kejriwal.

Dhankar termed Kejriwal's stand as "wrong" and alleged that he has opposed the proposed canal for gaining "political benefits" in Punjab at a time when elections are round the corner.

"For Delhi's needs of water, you may take the trouble of getting your own canal constructed from Nangal Dam and Tajewala Headwork's (Yamunanagar) so that Delhi's share of water reaches the national capital with your efforts," Dhankar told the Delhi Chief Minister.

"You would be aware that from Ravi-Beas, Haryana was allocated 3.5 MAF (million acre-feet) and Delhi 0.2 MAF of water. Haryana gets Delhi's 0.2 MAF share through the Bhakra Main Line from Punjab which then, through Narwana Branch and Western Yamuna Canal systems, reaches Delhi," he wrote in the letter.

Besides, Haryana also transfers 330 cusec of Yamuna water through the Western Yamuna Canal to Delhi, he said.

He also said Haryana is not able to lift its share of 498 cusec of water.

On Wednesday, Haryana Assembly had passed a resolution condemning the reported statement of Kejriwal, where the CM supported Punjab's decisions.

Many believe that if Punjab gets away with the filling up of canals with mud, to block the flow of water, it could set a dangerous precedent for other states of the country. This could threaten federal unity with inter-state battles for waters that ignore the law.

Political ties between Punjab and Haryana severed

With sharing of river waters becoming a bone of contention between these two states, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) on Thursday severed its ties with long-time ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

"The party's (INLD) alliance with Akalis has now ended as it has brought a Bill against the interests of Haryana," said INLD Secretary General and Leader of Opposition in Haryana assembly Abhay Chautala, who is also younger son of jailed leader and former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala.

"We now do not have any relation with SAD in Punjab," he said announcing the breaking of the decades-old ties between the two parties.

SAD has one MLA Balkaur Singh from Kalianwali assembly seat in Haryana.

"Because of the Bill (by which the owners whose land was acquired by government will be returned to them), there is a lot of anger against Punjab among Haryana people," he said.

"We have always considered Punjab as our elder brother but today they have betrayed us. Now the people of Haryana will have no faith in Punjab...They have ended the relationship between the two states," he said.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Mar 18, 2016 16:15:53 IST

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