Not a drop of water to spare: Badal

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Chandigarh, March 2 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said on Wednesday that Punjab did not have a single drop of water to spare from its rivers and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) would ensure that there is no compromise on the rights of the state under the Riparian principle.

“Punjab’s stand on the subject has been consistent, clear and categorical. And there can be no compromise on the rights of Punjab as a Riparian state,” Badal said in a statement here.

“The SAD is ready to make every sacrifice on this sacred path. No price is too high in order to safeguard every drop of Punjab’s waters as it is the life’s blood of the state, especially its farmers,” said Badal, the Akali Dal patron-in-chief.

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Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said on Wednesday that his state was hoping that the decision of the Supreme Court on the issue of Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal would be in favour of Haryana.

Khattar, interacting with media here, said the Supreme Court had accepted the petition filed by the Haryana government for early hearing on the issue of the SYL Canal, on which Presidential Reference was pending.

Both Punjab and Haryana have been locked in a bitter war of words over sharing of river waters. The apex court is taking up the matter when Punjab is just about one year from assembly polls.

While Haryana has a BJP government since October 2014, the BJP is an ally of the Akali Dal in the government in Punjab since 2007.

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The Congress government in Punjab had, in 2004, scrapped the water sharing agreements with neighbouring states and had refused to give any water to other states, especially Haryana.

The presidential reference was sought after the Punjab assembly unilaterally passed the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act 2004, categorically stating that it was nullifying all agreements on water sharing and that no more water would be given to Haryana.

The Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal, major portions of which were completed in the 1990s at a cost of over Rs.750 crore, is entangled in a political and legal quagmire with Punjab and Haryana unwilling to give up their respective stand on the controversial canal issue and sharing of river waters.

The canal that was to link two major rivers in Punjab and Haryana is awaiting a presidential reference for the past nearly 12 years to decide its fate.

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The foundation stone of the SYL canal was laid in April 1982 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. At that time terrorism was on the rise in Punjab and the issue became a sensitive one, with leaders in Punjab raking up the water sharing issue. Terrorists gunned down labourers and officials involved in SYL construction to get the project stalled.

Several kilometres of the canal were made in Punjab and Haryana but the project never got completed.

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