SC urges Punjab and Haryana to discuss Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal issue

New Delhi, September 6: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Union Minister Jal Shakti to convene a meeting between the governments of Punjab and Haryana to resolve the dispute over the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal.

A bench of judges Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Abhay S Oka and Vikram Nath requested the central government to hold a meeting between the two states and granted four months to file a report on the meeting. The Supreme Court has now released the case for hearing on January 19, 2023 and has requested a progress report on the matter.

The Supreme Court was hearing the SYL Canal dispute between Haryana and Punjab.
During the hearing, the bench observed that natural resources must be shared, especially considering the security scenario in Punjab.

“Water is a natural resource and living beings must learn to share it, whether individual or state. The issue cannot be seen from the point of view of a single city or a single state. is the natural wealth to be shared and how it should be shared is a mechanism to be worked out,” Judge Kaul said.

India’s Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the ministry, said the Center was trying to bring the states of Punjab and Haryana together.

Venugopal further stated that Punjab is not cooperating in this matter.
“The Center had written a letter to the new chief minister of Punjab in April but there was no response,” he said.

For this, the bench ordered all parties to cooperate. “Either they sit down and talk or the Court will order the decree to be carried out. These issues should not be allowed to escalate…This will allow forces who may not be friendly to the country to ‘act and intervene,’ observed the highest court. .

On July 28, 2020, the highest court had asked the chief ministers of the two states to try to resolve the issue amicably.

The ministry had previously held several meetings attended by the chief secretaries of the two states, but were unsuccessful.

The problem stems from the controversial water sharing agreement of 1981 after the formation of Haryana from Punjab in 1966. For efficient water allocation, the SYL canal had to be constructed and the two states had to build their portions on their territories.
While Haryana constructed its part of the canal, after the initial phase, Punjab halted the works resulting in multiple cases.

In 2004, the Punjab government passed a law unilaterally nullifying the SYL agreement and other similar pacts, but in 2016 the Supreme Court struck down the law. Later, the Punjab went ahead and returned the acquired land – on which the canal was to be built – to the landowners.


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Harry D. Gonzalez