New Delhi, January 19
Maintaining that a negotiated settlement of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal dispute can’t be reached, the Haryana Government on Thursday requested the Supreme Court to ask the Punjab Government to implement its order to complete the construction of the canal.
“After this court’s suggestion in September last year, there have been several meetings. The last meeting took place in January this year. Unfortunately, there has not been any progress… No solution is in sight,” senior counsel Shyam Divan told a Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul.
“The matter has been repeatedly adjourned since 2017 to enable us to talk. But we believe the time has come for this court to consider issuing further orders for the execution of the decree,” Divan said, demanding the implementation of the top court’s orders.
The Bench deferred the hearing to March 15 as Attorney General R Venkataramani was not available.
The Supreme Court had on September 9 last year asked the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana to meet and negotiate an amicable settlement to the vexed issue that has defied any solution for decades despite several rounds of litigation.
It had asked the Union Jal Shakti Ministry to call a meeting of the two chief ministers for the purpose.
“Water is a natural resource and living beings must learn to share it — whether individuals or states. The matter cannot be looked at from the point of view of only one city or one state. It’s natural wealth to be shared and how it’s to be shared is a mechanism to be worked out,” the Bench had said.
The chief ministers of the two states met on January 4 during a meeting chaired by Union Water Resources Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in the national capital, but they failed to break the ice.
Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann said his state did not have even a single drop of water to share even as Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar demanded the full construction of the canal. Khattar asserted that getting water through the SYL canal was Haryana’s right.
At the root of the problem is the 1981 water-sharing agreement after Haryana was carved out of Punjab in 1966. For the effective allocation of water, the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal was to be constructed and the two states were required to construct their portions within their territories. While Haryana constructed its portion of the canal, after the initial phase, Punjab stopped the work, leading to multiple cases.
In 2002, the Supreme Court decreed Haryana’s suit and ordered Punjab to honour its commitments on water-sharing.
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