The tussle between the governments of Punjab and Haryana over the Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) and corresponding allegations, counter-allegations & flip-flops of political parties would be amusing, had it not have major implication on the rule of law and impacted the lives of hundred and thousand of people across the state border.
Governments of Punjab and Haryana have been at loggerhead with each other for over three decades on the contentious & emotive issue of construction of Satluj Yamuna Link canal. The complex history of the canal points out towards ambiguity of political parties of the neighboring states. However, with the political heat surging in wake of approaching assembly elections scheduled for early next year, contradictory stand of political parties have become a norm in state.
For instance, the Congress, which is responsible for all the trouble by starting the construction of controversial canal, is strongly opposed to it in Punjab, while its Haryana unit is in favour of it. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is a new entrant to the political scene of Punjab faces even more acute dilemma. AAP is in power in Delhi, which is dependent on Haryana for its water needs. The troubles for AAP increases further, as Arvind Kejriwal, its national convener and Delhi CM, is a native of Haryana.
When Haryana was carved out of Punjab (undivided) in the year 1966, it threw open the problem of river water sharing between newly formed Haryana and its parent state. Punjab was opposed to sharing waters of the Ravi and Beas with Haryana, citing riparian principles; a legal term used to describe the rights of landowners through whose property a natural water body flows. Punjab argued that it had no water to spare with any state.
The issue is getting trickier with the election date coming closer. Political parties are changing their stand according the state they are in. After raking up issue, Congress tried to douse the fire by annulling the act in 2004 when Captain Amarinder Singh was the CM of the state. However, in current context, Congress is not clear on its stand. While SAD-BJP led government in Punjab has announced denotification of more than 5,000 acres of land acquired for the canal, Congress was quick to oppose. Congress leadership in state lodged a strong protest to include amendments to the resolution moved by the CM Prakash Singh Badal – albeit without any success.
Finding itself in fix, AAP’s political discourse on the issue has been accompanied with flip-flops. Kejriwal took a strong Punjab centric stance by stating that Punjab doesn’t have any water to spare but took a U-turn later. Delhi government filed an affidavit in Supreme Court endorsing the stand taken by Haryana government. Realising its political blunder AAP was quick enough to shrug of its responsibility by passing on the blame on to government appointed counsel. Delhi government sacked the counsel and filed a fresh affidavit taking a neutral stand.
The fact of the matter is that Punjab doesn’t even have sufficient water for its own needs, leave aside sharing with other states. What is required is a holistic approach to the problem but instead, the slugfest continues driven by the political opportunism.