Ruchika M Khanna
Chandigarh, October 13
The AAP government will be opposing the construction of the contentious Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal and giving away of its river waters to Haryana, during the meeting of the Chief Ministers of both states on Friday.
Though the strategy for the meeting is being kept under wraps, after an over two-hour preparatory meeting held by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann this evening, well-placed sources in the government have told The Tribune that a representative from the Ministry of Jal Shakti would also be present.
Sources say in the wake of a multitude of objections that Mann proposes to raise in the meeting, he will be asking his Haryana counterpart, Manohar Lal Khattar, to try and explore “various other options” for augmenting the river waters availability in his state, including the Sharda Yamuna Link canal, from where it can get 1.68 million acre feet (MAF) of water.
“As we have no water to spare, not a single drop will be given to Haryana,” Finance Minister Harpal Cheema said.
“The sharing of river waters was decided on the basis of the flow of the Ravi and the Beas from 1921-1945 and 1921-1960. Over the years, the water in the rivers has decreased sharply. On the one hand, we say that Punjab is heading towards desertification in the next two decades while on the other, we are expected to give more water to a non-riparian state. How can this be done?”
The state government is also expected to take up the issue of Haryana already having higher quantity of river waters at its disposal than Punjab. While Punjab gets 12.24 MAF of water from the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, Haryana gets 12.48 MAF of water, including 4.68 MAF from the Yamuna.
The state is also expected to raise the issue of reason for proposing the transfer of Fazilka and Abohar to Haryana in lieu of Chandigarh, only to give the state riparian rights over the Punjab rivers.
Notably, of the 214-km-long proposed canal, Haryana has already completed the construction work on 92 km, which falls in its area. Though the work on the canal was started in April 1982, it was never completed in Punjab. In 1990, the construction was stopped after a Chief Engineer carryng out the work was shot dead by terrorists. In 2004, when the Supreme Court ordered the central PWD to construct the canal, the then state government passed the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, abrogating all its river water agreements with the neighbouring states. This Act was then referred to the Supreme Court. In 2016, the then Punjab Government also passed the Punjab Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal Land (Transfer of Proprietary Rights) Bill, vesting the ownership rights of the land acquired for the SYL back to the owners.
Punjab will also be raising the issue of the land meant for the canal being vested to the owners by the previous government.
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