Chandigarh: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has written to his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann, making it clear that he is ready for dialogue to resolve any hurdle or obstacles hindering the construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna-Link (SYL) canal.
Pertinently, Haryana’s offer is subsequent to Punjab government’s stand that it would not share even a drop of additional water with any other state.
Supreme Court's Stand
According to official information, the Haryana chief minister said in his communication to Mann that the Supreme Court had issued a comprehensive order on October 4, 2023, explicitly stating that "the execution is not related to the allocation of water".
The chief minister said that every resident of Haryana was anxiously anticipating the prompt SYL canal construction within the Punjab region, as per the decree outlined in Original Case No 6 of 1996. Apart from this, he remained committed to taking any necessary actions to bring this long-awaited aspiration of his people and the dry lands of southern Haryana. He conveyed his optimism that the Punjab government would indeed collaborate and contribute to the resolution of this matter.
The official release held that the Punjab chief minister had written a letter to Haryana chief minister on October 3, a day before the Supreme Court's decision on October 4, 2023, requesting a bilateral meeting on this issue.
Prior to this, the last meeting between the two was held on October 14, 2022. Subsequently, the Union Jal Shakti Minister conducted a second round of discussions on January 4, 2023, during which the chief ministers of both states were present. It is noteworthy that all meetings concerning the SYL canal remained inconclusive, primarily due to the Punjab Government's negative stance on the matter, the release noted.
Water Allocation Dispute
It further held that despite two Supreme Court rulings, Punjab had yet to conclude the construction of the SYL canal. Instead of adhering to the Supreme Court's decisions, Punjab attempted to obstruct its implementation by enacting the Agreement Revocation Act in 2004. According to the provisions of the Punjab Reorganization Act, 1966, and as per the Government of India's order dated 24.3.1976, Haryana was allocated 3.5 million acre-feet (MAF) of water from the surplus waters of the Ravi-Beas rivers.
Impact on Southern Haryana
However, due to the non-construction of the SYL canal, Haryana was only using 1.62 MAF of water. Punjab, by failing to complete the canal's construction within its jurisdiction, was unlawfully utilising about 1.9 MAF of Haryana's share of water. This attitude of Punjab has left Haryana unable to access its rightful share of 1.88 MAF of water, the release said and added that the unavailability of this water had led to a significant decline in the groundwater levels in southern Haryana.