Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has warned the Centre that “Punjab will burn” if the Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal is completed.
Speaking at a virtual meeting on Tuesday, Singh said, “You have to look at the issue from the national security perspective. 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.” Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar also attended the meeting.
Singh expressed concern about Pakistan helping revival of separatist movement in Punjab and said that SYL project will only help enemy’s evil designs.
All about the dispute
The water dispute between Punjab and Haryana started in 1966 when the two states came into existence. Haryana had demanded a large chunk of water from Ravi and Beas rivers, which was rejected by Punjab on the grounds that it didn’t have surplus water. The SYL canal was commissioned in 1975 by the Indira Gandhi government, by way of an executive order, dividing the water between the two states.
The Shiromani Akali Dal launched a huge agitation against the project in 1982, when the actual canal work started. Shiromani Akali Dal chief Harchand Singh Longowal was murdered by militants in 1985 when he tried to resolve the matter with then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Two engineers working on the project were murdered too in 1990.
What happened today
The Tuesday meeting (August 18) was effected by a Supreme Court directive, asking the two chief ministers last month to expedite the SYL canal work, which is under construction for about 40 years now.
Punjab, which has maintained that it has no excess water to share, reiterated its demand for a tribunal to make a fresh time-bound assessment of the water availability. Punjab has laid claim over the complete share of water available in its borders, including that of river Yamuna.
Captain Amrinder Singh, who described Tuesday’s meeting as “positive and cordial”, has also expressed his willingness to sit and discuss the issue with his Haryana counterpart.
Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is of the view that the canal work should be completed while discussions to resolve the water dispute may continue.
Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar later told the reporters that the two states will meet in Chandigarh once again.