CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today asserted that the contentious Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) issue could be resolved only through negotiations and urged the Centre to facilitate dialogue with Haryana for early resolution of the matter.
His comments came on a day when the Supreme Court said the orders passed by it on the Satluj-Yamuna Link canal issue have to be "respected and executed" and the governments of Punjab and Haryana have a duty to obey them.
The court has fixed the matter for hearing on September 7.
In a statement, the chief minister said that Punjab does not wish to deprive anyone of the essential commodity. "The critical shortage of water in the state prevented it from sharing this vital resource."
Amarinder also welcomed the Supreme Court's directive to stop all agitations on SYL, saying neither Punjab nor Haryana could afford to spiral into violence.
Appealing to the Centre to initiate talks at the earliest to find an amicable solution to the problem, he said the SYL issue could be solved only through negotiations.
The chief minister said that water in Punjab rivers had declined over the years due to the melting glaciers in the higher reaches.
Yesterday, Haryana opposition party INLD stopped vehicles coming from Punjab as part of its protest over the SYL issue.
The controversial 1981 water-sharing agreement came into being after Haryana was carved out of Punjab in 1966. For effective allocation of water, the SYL canal link was conceptualised and both the states were required to construct their portions within their territories.
Haryana constructed the portion of SYL canal in its territory. However, Punjab, after the initial phase, stopped the work, leading to spate of litigations.
In 2004, the Congress government in the state came out with the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act with an intention to terminate the 1981 agreement and all other pacts relating to sharing of waters of rivers Ravi and Beas.
The apex court had first decreed the suit of Haryana in 2002 asking Punjab to honour its commitments with regard to water sharing in the case.
Punjab had challenged the verdict by filing an original suit that was rejected in 2004 by the Supreme Court which asked the Centre to take over the remaining infrastructural work of the SYL canal project.