SYL canal: Political parties in Punjab blame each other for dispute

LOP Bajwa called upon the government to establish ownership rights over river waters flowing through the State, while presenting case in SC

January 05, 2023 11:25 pm | Updated 11:25 pm IST - CHANDIGARH

Union Minister of Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat chairs a meeting with Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann on (Sutlej-Yamuna link) SYL issue, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023.

Union Minister of Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat chairs a meeting with Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann on (Sutlej-Yamuna link) SYL issue, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

As the stalemate surrounding the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal— the focal point of a water-sharing dispute between Haryana and Punjab— continues, the political parties are involved in a war of words over the emotive issue.

While the Congress party and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) have targeted the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government over compromising the State’s interest, the AAP has hit back, blaming both the SAD and the Congress of betraying the people of Punjab, for vested interests.

On Thursday, Punjab’s Leader of the Opposition Partap Singh Bajwa called upon the State government to first establish ownership rights over the river waters flowing through the State, while presenting its case in the Supreme Court.

Mr. Bajwa said that as per the riparian law established and accepted internationally all across the world including India, its various provinces, and Union Territories, all natural resources comprising mineral deposits or river waters existing on the soil and beneath the earth, belonged to the State. There should be no ambiguity over it.

No consensus arrived at

On January 4, a meeting was held on the issue of the SYL canal dispute in New Delhi in which Chief Ministers and officials of Haryana and Punjab, besides Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat participated. The meeting remained inconclusive as no consensus was arrived at surrounding the construction of the SYL.

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal accused the AAP of conspiring to destroy the riparian basis of Punjab’s claim on the water of its rivers. Mr. Badal said, “Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann is a willing tool in this conspiracy. The whole idea of linkage of the Yamuna with the Sutlej is an age-old devious ploy to destroy all constitutional basis of Punjab claim. The river linkage is aimed at taking away the Sutlej waters to Haryana on the pretext of creating a shared pool of water,” he said, adding the AAP must prepare to face agitation against the idea.

AAP spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang, meanwhile alleged that the Congress and the SAD-BJP had never any intention to solve the SYL canal issue and the previous governments had betrayed the people of Punjab, and allowed the construction of the SYL canal for vested interest.

He said Mr. Mann had strongly presented the case of Punjab before the Central government and had asked it to construct the Yamuna Sutlej Link (YSL) instead of the SYL amidst the depleting water of Punjab. From this YSL canal, water from rivers Ganga and Yamuna should be supplied to Punjab through the Sutlej river, he said.

“The river linkage is aimed at taking away the Sutlej waters to Haryana on the pretext of creating a shared pool of water”Sukhbir Singh BadalSAD president

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