Hours after the Supreme Court asked the Centre to survey the portion of land in Punjab allocated for the construction of a part of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, all political parties in Punjab asserted that the state does not have a single drop of additional water to share with any other state.
However, political outfits in Haryana welcomed the apex court directions, saying the people of the state have been waiting for years to get the SYL water.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said he hopes that the Punjab government will immediately follow the orders of the Supreme Court.
“I thank the Hon’ble Supreme Court. SYL is the lifeline of Haryana and the right of the people of Haryana and I hope that the Punjab government will follow the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court without delay.
“We also urge the central government to get the survey work of SYL completed without any delay and work towards giving Haryana the right that has been pending for years,” Khattar said in a post on X in Hindi.
While Punjab’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said the state neither has water nor has land for the construction of the SYL canal, the opposition parties pitched for a special assembly session and an all-party meeting over this issue.
During the hearing in the SYL matter on Wednesday, the SC asked the Centre to survey the portion of land in Punjab which was allocated for the construction of a part of the SYL canal in the state and make an estimate about the extent of construction carried out there.
A bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul also asked the central government to actively pursue the mediation process to resolve the festering dispute between Punjab and Haryana over the construction of the canal.
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 122 km was to be constructed in Punjab and 92 km in Haryana.
Haryana has completed the project in its territory but Punjab, which launched the construction work in 1982, later shelved it.
Reacting to the SC hearing, Punjab AAP chief spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang said the Punjab government has a clear stand over the SYL canal issue that the state does not have a single drop of water to share with any other state.
Kang further said the state government had raised the issue of SYL in the Northern Zonal Council meeting which was held recently in Amritsar.
He said that thousands of acres of land in Punjab was already under the dark zone, adding that the land, which was notified for the construction of SYL canal, has already been denotified.
“Neither we have water nor we have land for construction of the SYL canal,” he asserted, adding that the government will put forth the viewpoint before the SC and the Centre as well.
Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Partap Singh Bajwa said Punjab is an agricultural state and water is its lifeline.
Bajwa appealed to Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann to call an emergency session of the Punjab Assembly over this issue. He said all political outfits wanted to know what was the stand of the state advocates in the court over the SYL issue.
He further appealed to Mann to call an all-party meeting over the matter.
Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring too said Punjab has no surplus water to share and therefore, no question of conducting a survey arises.
“While we respect the Supreme Court, we vehemently oppose its direction to the Centre to conduct a survey of the land meant for construction of the SYL canal in Punjab,” he said.
The Gidderbaha MLA said, “This is not an issue of mere construction of a canal, a lot of emotions of the Punjabis are connected with this issue…Punjab has faced a dark period due to the SYL issue and I warn the Aam Aadmi Party and all the other players involved to not play with emotions of Punjab, as escalation of this issue may take Punjab back to the black days of past.” Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia said that the Akali government in 2016 had returned the land acquired for the construction of the SYL canal to farmers.
“In such a situation no land exists in Punjab which can be used to take the state’s river waters to Haryana,” Majithia said in a statement.
Punjab BJP chief Sunil Jakhar too said that Punjab does not have water to share.
“Let me reiterate – Punjab doesn’t not have a drop of water to share – period!” Jakhar posted on X.
Meanwhile, Haryana Chief Minister Khattar in a statement said that at present Punjab is using about 1.9 million acre-feet of Haryana’s share of water as it has not completed the construction work of the SYL canal in its area.
“If SYL is constructed then with this water share that belongs to Haryana, about 10.08 lakh acres of state land will be irrigated. Besides this, the state water shortage will also be quenched and lakhs of farmers will benefit,” said Khattar.
Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said he welcomes the apex court directive, adding that Punjab should give up its stubbornness and cooperate in the matter.
Haryana BJP president OP Dhankar said that Punjab should stop playing politics over the issue.
Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) leader Digvijay Singh Chautala said SYL is Haryana’s right and Punjab should not make an attempt to snatch it away.
The AAP government in Punjab should follow the Supreme Court directions and if it doesn’t, the JJP then demands from the Centre that SYL canal should be constructed under the Border Roads Organisation by deploying paramilitary force so that the farmers of Haryana get their share of water, he said.
Indian National Lok Dal leader Abhay Singh Chautala said that SYL is the lifeline of Haryana.
“It is the misfortune of the state that till date Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has neither talked to the prime minister regarding SYL nor raised the SYL issue in the meeting of the Northern Zonal Council meeting held in Amritsar recently.
“Chief Minister Khattar is playing with the interests of Haryana and a CM who cannot fight for the interests of the people of Haryana has no right to continue on the post,” he said.