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Published On: Tue, Aug 18th, 2020

SYL: Punjab Will Burn if Asked to Share Water with Haryana: Amarinder Singh

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SYLNEW DELHI : Opposing the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday warned that “Punjab will burn” if the state is asked to share water with Haryana.
He said Pakistan was continuing with attempts to foment trouble and was trying to revive the separatist movement through the banned Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) organisation. The water issue could further destabilise the state, he warned, according to the statement.
At a meeting with his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar and Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Singh called SYL an emotive issue that could disturb national security.
The meeting was held on the directions of the Supreme Court that asked the two chief ministers last month to discuss the completion of the SYL canal, which has been in the pipeline for several decades. Punjab is reluctant to share water with Haryana and Rajasthan, saying it has nothing to spare.

Both states stuck to their stands at the meeting convened on the directions of the Supreme Court, which asked the Centre on July 28 to mediate between them on the decades-old issue.  Singh has reiterated the need for a tribunal for a time-bound assessment of river water availability.
“You have to look at the issue from the national security perspective,” he told Shekhawat. “If you decide to go ahead with SYL, Punjab will burn and it will become a national problem, with Haryana and Rajasthan also suffering the impact.”
SYL has been a contentious issue between the two states with the Punjab portion of the canal still incomplete. The construction began in 1982. Punjab has been demanding reassessment of the Ravi-Beas river waters’ volume while Haryana has been seeking completion of the SYL canal to get its share of 3.5 million acre feet (MAF) of water.

Singh claimed Punjab had a right to Yamuna water, in which it did not get a share at the time of 60:40 division of assets with Haryana during the state’s division in 1966.
Mr Singh reiterated his demand for a tribunal to make a fresh time-bound assessment of the water availability, even as he sought complete share of water for his state from the total resource available, including from River Yamuna.

Shekhawat suggested that the SYL could be completed while discussions on water sharing continue for arriving at a final formula. Shekhawat and Khattar joined the video conference from Delhi. Singh said Punjab remained at risk from all quarters.
The water dispute had started in 1966 when Punjab and Haryana states came into existence. Haryana had demanded a large chunk of river water which Punjab refused to provide, contending it didn’t have surplus water. The Indira Gandhi government in 1975, by way of an executive order, had divided the water between the two states and commissioned the canal to facilitate sharing.
In 1982, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had started the construction of the canal. The Shiromani Akali Dal had launched a massive agitation against it. In 1985, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had met SAD chief Harchand Singh Longowal and signed an accord for a new tribunal. Mr Longowal was killed by militants less than a month of signing the accord.
In 1990, a chief engineer ML Sekhri and a Superintending Engineer Avtar Singh Aulakh – both linked to the canal – were killed by militants.
(With Agency Inputs ).






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