CHANDIGRAH: The Supreme Court’s directive asking the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana to meet and negotiate an amicable settlement of the vexed issue of Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal has put the AAP government in Punjab in a soup.
Being in power in Punjab and targeting to contest the next elections in Haryana in 2024 AAP is in a fix on how to address the matter. The Supreme Court Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul has also asked the Union Jal Shakti Ministry to call a meeting of the two chief ministers to address the contentious issue. The Bench fixed the next hearing on January 15, 2023.
If the AAP government in Punjab takes the sentiments of people in account it is bound to defy the construction of the SYL, and if it does so it would be going against the interests of Haryana which it cannot afford politically in view of the 2024 Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha elections. Punjab, it may be recalled, has already taken a number of steps like promulgating the Termination of Agreements act and announcing to return the pieces of land taken from farmers for constructing the SYL.
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar has already announced that “this issue [SYL canal] can not be resolved by holding a meeting between the chief ministers” of the two states. “We will have to get an execution order from the Supreme Court . Attorney General KK Venugopal said the Centre had written a letter to the new chief minister of Punjab in April but there was no response.
The Supreme Court on July 28, 2020 had asked the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana to attempt a negotiated settlement of the issue. On behalf of the Haryana government, senior counsel Shyam Divan and Additional Advocate General Anish Gupta demanded execution of the decree in favour of Haryana, saying several rounds of negotiations had failed to bring results.