Akali Dal chief warns Punjab CM against negotiating on river water

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal on Tuesday warned Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann against reducing Punjab’s river waters to a negotiable issue between Punjab and Haryana.

In a statement here, the SAD President said it was shocking that the Chief Minister had not made the Punjab government’s stand clear before holding a meeting with his Haryana counterpart on this issue.

He said Punjab had an exclusive right over its river waters and Haryana being a non-Riparian state had no locus standi in the matter. “There is nothing to discuss here with Haryana.”

Badal’s assertions come in the wake of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar saying that he will be meeting his Punjab counterpart regarding the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal on October 14 in Chandigarh.

Asserting that no country could go against the internationally accepted principle of Riparian rights, Badal said “if non-Riparian Haryana is allowed to demand a share in Punjab’s river waters, what can stop Tamil Nadu or Bengal or Kerala, all non-Riparian states with respect to the Ravi, the Satluj and the Beas rivers from demanding the same. Similarly if the same used stick is applied what stops Punjab from demanding waters from the Godavari or the Ganges”.

Badal also said the issue of the Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal had been closed in 2016 when the Parkash Singh Badal government denotified the land which had been taken for establishment of the SYL and handed it back to its original owners free of cost.

“Parts of the canal had been even been ploughed and the canal does not exist in its old state in Punjab.”

Asking the Chief Minister to clear the air, Badal said there were deep misgivings in the minds of Punjabis that the AAP government was in the process of handing over their river waters to Haryana and Delhi.

He said during a recent visit to Haryana, Mann had even endorsed this proposal which was made by AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal in his presence.

“Earlier also the AAP government in Delhi has submitted identical affidavits along with Haryana in the apex court and made its anti-Punjab position clear. But despite all this the Chief Minister has neither clarified the state’s stand nor categorically told Punjabis that he would not let a drop of water pass to Haryana from Punjab”.

Asserting that the entire state would turn into a desert and that its agri economy would be doomed in case the AAP government in Punjab succumbed to pressure from its high command to release water to Haryana, Badal said SAD was ready to make any sacrifice to secure the river water rights of Punjab.

“We have made this clear to the erstwhile Central governments as well as courts. We will not allow AAP to sell off the state’s River water rights to please its high command,” he added.

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