Punjab and Haryana have been locked in a dispute over the sharing of Ravi-Beas waters for decades with the SYL canal emerging as a major bone of contention
Rajya Sabha member Sushil Gupta of the Aam Aadmi Party triggered a political storm in Punjab after he said that waters from the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal will reach Haryana’s fields if his party comes to power in the state.
Gupta, who is the AAP’s Haryana affairs in-charge, on Tuesday claimed that his party will form the government in Haryana and “water” will reach every field in the state in 2025. “This is not our promise, but our guarantee,” he said.
When asked if he means the SYL canal waters too, Gupta replied in the affirmative. His remark drew the ire of all opposition parties in the neighbouring Punjab, who expressed strong apprehensions about the “dubious intentions” of the AAP on river waters.
Punjab and Haryana have been locked in a dispute over the sharing of the Ravi-Beas waters for decades. While Haryana wants its share, as decided decades ago, successive governments in Punjab have been seeking a reassessment of its share. The SYL canal, which is incomplete, was to carry Haryana’s share of water and the state is now contemplating filing a contempt of court petition against Punjab for not implementing the Supreme Court’s 2002 orders to complete the remaining portion of the canal.
Clear your stand on SYL, Oppn to Punjab CM
Responding to Gupta’s remarks, Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh Raja Warring hit out at the AAP, stating that as the Arvind Kejriwal-led party could go to any extent in pursuit of winning elections, Punjab’s water interests might get compromised. He asked chief minister Bhagwant Mann about his preparations since the “enemy is at the gates”, advising him to take all parties into confidence and prepare legal and administrative strategies in view of Haryana’s planned contempt petition. “The time to act is now, lest we may be too late,” he warned the AAP government in Punjab in a statement.
Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Partap Singh Bajwa asked Mann and AAP to make their stance clear immediately. He questioned the silence of AAP MPs representing Punjab in Rajya Sabha on their party colleague’s comments. “Statement by @DrSushilKrGupta ji on ensuring water will be given to every village in Haryana shows how fixed game is being played between AAP and BJP,” Bajwa tweeted.
Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira urged the Bhagwant Mann government to strongly defend Punjab’s stand on the issue. “The Haryana government is considering filing a contempt of court petition and the state government and its advocate general should strongly defend Punjab’s case,” he said.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the guarantee of Punjab waters to Haryana through SYL canal exposes the true face of AAP and Kejriwal. He said the SAD will never allow anyone to barter away state’s interests, “I urge Bhagwant Mann to clear his position,” he tweeted.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state general secretary Dr Subhash Sharma asked the chief minister whether he had been taken into confidence by the party leadership before such a statement was made.
The BJP leader said the way Kejriwal was dictating terms in Punjab and running the government by proxy, there was a strong probability that he might force the state government to surrender to Haryana’s demand for petty electoral interests.