The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana to meet and negotiate an amicable settlement of the Sutlej–Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal row that has defied solution for the past so many years. The apex court also directed the Centre to call a meeting of the chief ministers of the warring states to thrash out differences related to the construction of the remaining portion of the SYL canal project.
Hearing the decades-old dispute between Punjab and Haryana on sharing of the Sutlej–¬Yamuna water, a bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul asked the Union Jal Shakti Ministry to call a meeting of the chief ministers of the two states within a month to settle the dispute.
During the hearing, the Centre alleged that Punjab was not cooperating to resolve the Appearing for the Central government, AG KK Venugopal informed the top court that the Centre had written letters in the past to the Punjab government but got no response. A letter was written as recent as in April to the new chief minister of Punjab and he is yet to respond.
After this, the Supreme Court asked the Union ministry to hold a meeting with Punjab and Haryana on the dispute within a month and prepare a report on the solutions and submit it to the Court.
During the hearing, the apex court observed that natural resources are to be shared, particularly keeping in view the security concerns in Punjab. Seeking a report on the progress made on the dispute, the Court posted the matter for 15 January 2023.
However, the ongoing dispute between the two states is going to be a big test for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The party runs the Punjab government. At the same time, the AAP is going to contest elections in Haryana and AAP MP has promised to bring SYL water to Haryana. If the AAP-led government of Punjab is unable to come to grips with this issue, there will be protests in Punjab. But if the party fails to stand for Haryana, it may adversely impact its prospects in the next elections.
AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann will be in Hisar on Wednesday, where questions may be raised on the issue.
At present, the work on SYL canal project is stalled after Punjab rescinded on the water-sharing agreement with Haryana.
The project was launched by late Mrs Indira Gandhi, when all three states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, part of the project, had Congress governments. The project, however, got mired in controversy as soon as it was inaugurated in 1980 at Kapuri in Patiala.