Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Friday, during a key meeting to discuss the contentious Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue, reiterated his state’s old stand that there is “no surplus water” to share.
“As a chief minister, I am saying we do not have any water (to share). We apprised Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat about it in the meeting. We are firm on our earlier stand that we do not have water,” Mann told reporters after an over hour-long meeting on the issue held by Shekhawat with chief ministers of Haryana and Punjab here on Friday.
“Punjab’s groundwater table has been depleting and the quantum of water in the rivers is also much less than what it was when the water share was decided. Also, Haryana refused to accept more water during recent floods, which proved they did not need more water,” Mann said.
Shekhawat and Haryana CM Khattar remained ensconced in the meeting, even after the Punjab CM left the venue.
Later, Khattar said that Haryana was well within its rights to demand water from Punjab. “We do not do politics on water like AAP. We demand our share and also feel that Rajasthan should also get water,” he said.
“Punjab has acknowledged that excess river water is flowing to Pakistan from Harike. It is unfortunate that water is going to the neighbouring country, but Punjab refuses to give it to Haryana.
“Mann hai ki maante nahin,” Khattar quipped.
Khattar said that Punjab is linking the construction of the canal to availability of water. “We have said that these two issues are separate,” the Haryana CM said.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in a post on ‘X’ said that the Central Government is making every possible effort to resolve the SYL canal issue with the consent of the state governments of Punjab and Haryana.
The meeting took place at a five-star hotel here in which senior officials from the two states also took part.
It was the third meeting between the two chief ministers during the past over a year on the issue and the second one during the current year being presided over by Shekhawat in which both CMs are present.
Ahead of the meeting, a few farmers’ outfits from Punjab held a protest in Mohali against the meeting, saying Punjab does not have any surplus water to share with anyone.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal), Kisan Sangharsh Committee (Punjab), and BKU (Mansa) were among the outfits taking part in the protest.
The SYL canal issue has been a bone of contention between the two states for the past several years.
The canal was conceptualised for the effective sharing of water between the two states from the Ravi and Beas rivers.
The project envisages a 214-kilometre canal, of which a 122-kilometre stretch was to be constructed in Punjab and the remaining 92 kilometres in Haryana.
Haryana has completed the project in its territory but Punjab, which launched the work in 1982, shelved it.
Haryana was carved out of Punjab on November 1, 1966.
The Haryana government wants the implementation of the Supreme Court verdict on the construction of the SYL canal.
The apex court had on October 4 asked the Centre to survey the portion of land in Punjab that the state was allocated for the construction of part of the SYL canal and make an estimate of the extent of construction carried out there.
All political parties in Punjab had earlier asserted that the state does not have a single drop of additional water to share with any other state, though political outfits in Haryana had welcomed the apex court directions. — with PTI