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SYL canal dispute: Supreme Court warns Punjab over delay in SYL canal construction; says 'don't force us...' View in Punjabi

Congress, BJP come out in support of AAP-led Punjab Government on this matter, say 'Punjab has no water to give to anyone'

Written by  Jasleen Kaur -- October 04th 2023 04:50 PM -- Updated: October 04th 2023 05:03 PM
SYL canal dispute: Supreme Court warns Punjab over delay in SYL canal construction; says 'don't force us...'

SYL canal dispute: Supreme Court warns Punjab over delay in SYL canal construction; says 'don't force us...'

Chandigarh, October 4: The Supreme Court on Wednesday came down heavily on the Punjab Government for its alleged long-standing neglect of a 21-year-old directive to construct its share of a canal linking the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers. 

The apex court warned the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab that "it must comply with its orders or face further consequences". Justice SK Kaul, leading the Bench, insisted that the Punjab Government "must adhere to the Supreme Court's decorum."

The Supreme Court directed Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann's administration, saying, " not force us to issue strict orders," and called upon the Central Government to facilitate discussions between Punjab and Haryana regarding this matter, as the latter has already completed the construction of its portion of the SYL canal.

The apex court also instructed the Central government to take charge and complete pre-construction land surveys and scheduled a follow-up hearing for January.

"We are concerned with the non-execution of a decree for the construction of a canal in the Punjab portion. We would like the Union of India to survey the allocated land portion... An estimate must be made regarding the extent of required construction," remarked the court.

During the hearing, the Punjab Government's counsel attributed the delay to opposition party pressure and difficulties in acquiring land from farmers.

The Supreme Court replied, "There may be political implications (but) something must be done. The canal will have to be constructed in not force us to issue tough orders."

Earlier, the Haryana Government had stated, "The only thing left is construction. Punjab, of course, has to cooperate. That is what federalism is about...we have to move forward."

"You (the two states) solve the matter not force us to issue strict orders," the court urged. It then turned to the Central Government's representative, asking, "Yes, Union of India, what are you doing?"

It comes a week after Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Amritsar and opposed the canal's construction from Punjab's side, considering it a highly emotive issue for the state.

Meanwhile, both Congress and BJP have come out in support of the AAP-led Punjab Government on this matter.

Congress leader Amarinder Raja Warring remarked, "We respect the Supreme Court, but Punjab has no water to give to anyone. We cannot give water at the expense of our people's rights."

Raja Warring called on Bhagwant Mann to send the best lawyers to present Punjab's case to the Supreme Court, emphasising that the issue had caused a dark period for Punjab in the past.

Punjab BJP chief Sunil Jakhar, a former Congress leader, stated in a tweet, "Let me reiterate - Punjab doesn't have a drop of water to share - period!"

This longstanding issue stems from a controversial 1981 water-sharing agreement that was established when Haryana was separated from Punjab in 1966. The construction of the canal was meant to ensure equitable water distribution, with both states responsible for constructing their respective portions. In 2004, the Punjab Government passed a law nullifying the SYL agreement and similar pacts. However, in 2016, the Supreme Court overturned the law. Punjab then proceeded to return the land allocated for the canal's construction to the owners.

- With inputs from our correspondent


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