Amid SYL row, Punjab govt calls 2-day assembly session on October 20-21

The Punjab government has called a two-day session of the state assembly on October 20 and 21, amid a political row over a Supreme Court directive on the Sutlej Yamuna Link canal.

The decision comes days after the state Cabinet had said that there was no question of building the SYL canal in Punjab as the state has no water to spare for Haryana.

The top court on October 4 had asked the Centre to survey the portion of land in Punjab which was allocated for the construction of part of the SYL canal and make an estimate of the extent of construction carried out there.

“Under second proviso to Rule 16 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly), the speaker has been pleased to call the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, which was adjourned sine die on 20th June, 2023 to meet at 11 am on Friday, 20th October, 2023 in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha,” said a notice of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha secretariat.

Officials said the October 20-21 session will be an extension of the fourth session — the budget session in March — of the current legislative assembly. 

 Since the fourth session has not been prorogued yet, an approval of the governor to call a sitting of the Assembly is not required and the assembly speaker is competent to convene it, said official sources.

Besides the SYL canal, some other issues are also likely to be discussed in the session, the sources said.

The opposition parties have turned the heat on the AAP government over the SYL issue, accusing it of “weakening” Punjab’s stand in the Supreme Court by stating that the state government was “ready to build the canal but the opposition parties and farmers were not allowing it”.

The SYL canal was conceptualised for effective allocation of water from the Ravi and Beas rivers. The project envisaged a 214-km canal, of which a 122-km stretch was to be constructed in Punjab and the remaining 92 km in Haryana.

Haryana has completed the project in its territory but Punjab, which launched the construction work in 1982, shelved it subsequently.

It remains to be seen if the Raj Bhavan reacts to the calling of the session by the AAP government.

Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit in July this year had called the June 19-20 session, which was also an extension of the budget session, “patently illegal”.

The governor had then pointed out that once the business of the meeting is over and nothing remains to be transacted, the meeting cannot be artificially kept alive.

The governor’s response had come after the chief minister had urged Purohit to sign the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2023, aimed at ensuring a free-to-air telecast of ‘Gurbani’ from the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

It was one of the four bills passed during the June 19-20 session. The four bills are still lying with the governor for his approval. 

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