Punjab, Haryana take SYL issue to President’s doorstep

New Delhi, Nov 28 (IANS) Involved in a political slugfest over the SYL canal, politicians of both Punjab and Haryana on Monday took the issue to President Pranab Mukherjee’s doorstep and aired their respective claims over the sharing of Sutlej-Yamuna river water.

The move follows a Supreme Court verdict on November 10 on a Presidential reference to declare ‘The Punjab Termination of Water Agreements Act, 2004, as unconstitutional.

The Haryana government, which is seeking river water from Punjab through the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal, has since approached the apex court.

“The Punjab Council of Ministers led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal today (Monday) submitted a memorandum to the President at the Rashtrapati Bhavan to apprise him of the SYL canal issue and not to accept any advice that militates against the basic riparian principle relevant to distribution of river waters,” a spokesman of the Punjab Chief Minister’s Office said.

The delegation members urged the President that “nothing should be done to deprive the people of Punjab of their legitimate rights with regard to water of rivers in the state in violation of the universally accepted riparian principle”.

They said that any advice or decision that violates the riparian principle would run against the dictates of the Constitutional framework.

“… all inter-state river water disputes in the country have been resolved only and strictly in accordance with this principle,” the delegation members said.

“Punjab seeks nothing beyond justice within the Constitutional framework. Your good self is requested to consider all aforesaid aspects to safeguard the interests of Punjab’s people. At stake is the future of the brave, patriotic and peace-loving people of the border state.”

On the other hand, an all-party delegation from Haryana led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar met Mukherjee on Monday evening.

“The President assured to sympathetically consider Haryana’s appeal for implementation of the Supreme Court decision in the SYL canal case,” a Haryana government spokesman said, adding Mukherjee gave a patient hearing to the delegation, which comprised ministers and senior leaders of main political parties of Haryana.

“Haryana should get its due share of (river) water. The state is asking for its rightful share and not Punjab’s share,” Khattar told the media after the meeting.

“While both states had been allotted equal share of 3.5 Million Acre Feet (MAF) water under the water-sharing agreement, Haryana was getting only 1.62 MAF. Since 1981, Punjab has been utilising 1.88 MAF water that rightfully belongs to Haryana. The Supreme Court has already dismissed the law passed by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to terminate the (water-sharing) agreements,” Khattar said.

The Punjab Council of Ministers recently declared that the state will accept no decision on the river water issue that violates nationally and internationally accepted riparian principle.

The Punjab government has since de-notified land acquired for the SYL canal almost four decades ago and transferred it back to the original owners.

The Punjab assembly, in an unprecedented move, on November 16 directed the Punjab government, its Council of Ministers and government officers and officials not to hand over land to any agency for the canal’s construction.

The assembly resolved that the Punjab government should levy a cost on Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi for the water supplied to non-riparian states over the past many years.

The Punjab government earlier declared it will neither accept the Supreme Court verdict nor implement it. It said that Punjab did not have a single drop pf water to spare for other states.

–IANS

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