Tuesday, January 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Chautala says no to meeting
Writes to Amarinder on SYL issue
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Even as the chill in northern India continues unabated, the political temperature in the states of Punjab and Haryana is being sought to be raised by politicians on the issue of the SYL canal.

The latest to raise the heat is a missive from Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala to his Punjab counterpart, Capt Amarinder Singh, virtually turning down a suggestion by the latter for a meeting between the Chief Ministers of the two states on the SYL issue.

Capt Amarinder Singh had suggested such a meeting in his letter of January 3 written to the Prime Minister and Mr Chautala. He had also sought a review of allocation of the river waters between Punjab and Haryana and implementation of the Rajiv-Longowal accord in toto, including the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab.

In a two-page letter written to Capt Amarinder Singh today, Mr Chautala bluntly told the Punjab Chief Minister that the issues raised by him were “totally irrelevant” so far as the implementation of the Supreme Court judgement of January 15, 2002, was concerned. The apex court had said that Punjab should complete the canal by January 15, 2003, failing which the Central Government should take over the construction work. However, no time period was specified for the Central Government to act.

Mr Chautala said most of the issues (mentioned in Capt Amarinder Singh’s letter) were not new and were raised by Punjab before the Supreme Court orally as well as in writing. However, after hearing the two states at length and considering their detailed arguments, the apex court passed the judgement and decree on January 15 last in original suit No. 6 of 1996 (state of Haryana vs state of Punjab and another).

He said most of these issues were re-agitated by Punjab in its review application of February 8, 2002, which too was dismissed by the Supreme Court on March 5, 2002.

Expressing surprise over Capt Amarinder Singh’s suggestion of a meeting with Haryana when “the time given by the Supreme Court to Punjab to make the SYL canal functional, is coming to an end in less than 10 days”, Mr Chautala reminded his Punjab counterpart that the apex court had categorically held that the dispute regarding the construction of the SYL canal was not a “water dispute” relating to sharing of water within the meaning of Section 2(c) of the Inter State Water Disputes Act, 1956.

He further reminded the Punjab Chief Minister that the Supreme Court had also taken judicial notice of the genesis of the construction of the canal as well as the allocation of water in favour of Haryana and the agreement entered into between the two states in the presence of the Prime Minister of India in 1981. This agreement had led to the withdrawal of earlier suits by Punjab and Haryana filed in the Supreme Court.

Mr Chautala pointed out that the apex court had also observed that over Rs 700 crore of public money could not be allowed to be washed down the drain when the entire portion of the canal within the territory of Haryana had already been completed and a major portion of the canal within Punjab had also been dug, leaving only minor patches incompleted.

The Haryana Chief Minister also took umbrage in today’s letter over the fact that Capt Amarinder Singh had not even acknowledged his letter of March 27, 2002, requesting the Punjab Chief Minister to direct his engineers to take up the construction of the canal without any further loss of time, so that it became functional by January 14, 2003.

“It is, however, unfortunate that neither there was any response to my aforesaid letter nor Punjab has taken any measure to complete the canal and make it functional by January 14, 2003.

“In these circumstances, no useful purpose would be achieved by holding a meeting at this stage. I also do not feel it necessary to give my viewpoint on the issues like the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab or Hindi-speaking areas of Punjab to Haryana in lieu thereof or the proposed Yamuna basin allocations or Sharda-Yamuna link etc., as in my opinion, these issues are absolutely out of context in reference to the legal mandatory obligation caused upon Punjab for implementing the apex court judgement (on the SYL canal).”

Mr Chautala concluded by once again urging his Punjab counterpart to respect the verdict of the highest court of this land and to implement it in letter and in spirit as “the people of Haryana have waited long enough for the construction of the SYL canal and their allocated share of the Ravi-Beas waters”.


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