Meet on Sutlej-Yamuna Link remains inconclusive as Punjab, Haryana CMs stick to their stands
The Supreme Court had in September nudged the two chief ministers to meet and work out an amicable solution to the SYL canal row
Resolution to the contentious SYL issue remained elusive after Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat convened a joint meeting with Punjab and Haryana chief ministers on Wednesday to discuss the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal matter, with both the state leaders sticking to their stands.
While Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said his state does not have "even a single drop of water" to share, his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar said the full construction of the canal and getting water through it was a matter of "right" for his state.
Khattar also said Haryana will inform the Supreme Court that Punjab was not abiding by its order in the matter.
"Instead of discussing the issue of the construction of the canal, the Punjab chief minister kept on saying there is no water to share," Khattar said in a statement later.
The Supreme Court had in September nudged the two chief ministers to meet and work out an amicable solution to the SYL canal row.
During the meeting, Shekhawat asked the two chief ministers to come up with a solution, sources said.
But Mann said, "More than 78 per cent of our 150 blocks are in extreme dark zone due to depletion of ground water table. So Punjab can't afford to share its water with any other state." "The state does not have even a single drop of water to share with Haryana," he said in a statement, and demanded his state should get water from Yamuna river in Haryana instead.
"No SYL (Sutlej-Yamuna Link), Haryana should talk about YSL (Yamuna-Sutlej Link)," he said.
Mann also sought setting up of a fresh tribunal to assess water available with the state, while Khattar said his state has the right to get water from Ravi and Beas rivers by the full construction of the SYL canal, the sources said.
Khattar said that the Punjab government is not abiding by the Supreme Court's order wherein the Act brought by the Punjab government in 2004 was declared null and void and unconstitutional.
"Punjab chief minister says that the 2004 Act still stands which is null and void in the eyes of law and completely unconstitutional," Khattar said.
"Instead of discussing the issue of construction of SYL canal, the Punjab Chief Minister repeatedly kept on saying that there is no water in the state to share. Rather they are asking to discuss sharing of water whereas a separate tribunal has been set up for discussing issues related to water sharing. Distribution of water will be done according to the recommendation of the tribunal," he said.
He said that the SYL Canal should be built and the Haryana government would apprise the Supreme Court about Punjab's reluctant attitude over this issue. "We will obey the orders of the Supreme Court in this regard", Khattar added.
Strongly presenting the case of Punjab before the Centre, Mann insisted, "More than 78% of our 150 blocks are in extreme dark zone due to depletion of ground water table, so Punjab can't afford to share its water with any other state." He said at a time when this anti-Punjab agreement for the canal was signed, the state was getting 18.56 MAF of water which has now been reduced to 12.63 MAF.
He said that now the state does not have any surplus water to share with any state. Mann claimed Haryana is currently getting 14.10 MAF of water from Satluj, Yamuna and other rivulets whereas Punjab is getting only 12.63 MAF.
Batting for changing the nomenclature and proposal of the project, he said instead of Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, the project should be now conceived as Yamuna Sutlej Link (YSL). He said that Satluj river has already dried up and there is no question of sharing even a single drop of water from it. Rather, water from Ganga and Yamuna should be supplied to Punjab through Satluj river.
Mann said this is the only viable alternative which can be considered in wake of the alarming situation of water scarcity in the state.
The SYL canal has been a bone of contention between Punjab and Haryana for decades. Shekhawat called the meeting after both the chief ministers failed to reach a consensus over the issue.
Punjab has been maintaining that the quantum of water flowing through Ravi and Beas rivers had come down considerably and therefore, their water volume should be reassessed.
"Both sides presented their arguments and the Jal Shakti minister asked them to come out with a mutual solution of the matter," a source said.
The SYL canal was conceptualised for effective allocation of water from Ravi and Beas rivers. The project envisaged a 214-km canal, of which 122 km was to be in Punjab and 92 km in Haryana. Haryana has completed the project in its territory. Though Punjab took up the work in 1982, it was later shelved.