CHANDIGARH: All political parties, except Congress, today met Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki urging him not to give his assent to a bill being brought by Punjab to de-notify the land for construction of Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal.
An all-party meeting was called by the Haryana government to discuss SYL and Jat reservation issues here which was attended among others by representatives of ruling BJP, opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), Haryana Janhit Congress-BL (HJC-BL) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Congress boycotted the meet.
The meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar unanimously adopted a resolution which was submitted to the Governor as a memorandum. Solanki is the Governor of Haryana and is also holding additional charge of Punjab.
"The Bill which has been brought by Punjab, is not right. Entire Haryana is upset about it. The bill is an attack on the Constitution," Haryana Agriculture Minister O P Dhankar said after the all-party meeting.
"A similar law was brought by Punjab in 2004 which hit Haryana's interest. Haryana is fighting its battle in the Supreme Court...We are meeting Governor on SYL issue and will convey him that the Bill which is to be brought by Punjab government in Vidhan Sabha was against article 356 of the Constitution," he said.
INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala said the Governor should not give his assent to "The Punjab Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal (Rehabilitation and Re-vesting of Proprietary Rights) Bill, 2016".
"To ensure this Bill is not tabled in Punjab Vidhan Sabha and to stop it, we will meet the Governor... He should stop the passage of the Bill... as it will create a new conflict between Punjab and Haryana," Chautala said.
Assuring his party's support, HJC chief Kuldeep Bishnoi said, "On SYL issue we are with the state government."
Khattar said the Governor has assured that since the SYL Canal was an issue between Punjab and Haryana the matter would be discussed.
Describing the decision of Punjab government to de-notify the land for the canal as "wrong", he said the SYL canal should be constructed in the interest of Haryana and, since all parties were united on this, the state's interest would be protected.
On Congress boycotting the all-party meeting, Khattar said it was regrettable that the main opposition was "playing politics" on the issue by staying away from the meeting.
"Maybe the Congress boycott was due to their internal issues," he said, adding they should have also extended support in the larger interest of the state. The memorandum said, "The issue of construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal in the Punjab region has been hanging fire for the last four decades. The SYL Canal is the lifeline of Haryana.
"The farmers have been waiting for several years to get their allocated share of the Ravi-Beas waters through this canal. Irrigation capacity of three lakh hectares developed in the state is not being utilised due to non-completion of the canal, thus causing loss of agricultural produce worth crores of rupees every year," it stated.
"Therefore, early completion of the canal is not only in the interest of Haryana, but also in the larger interest of the nation as a whole," the memorandum said.
"It is not in our culture to usurp the share of others. Haryana is neither asking for charity, nor demanding Punjab's share of water. Haryana only wants a passage to get its allocated share of the Ravi-Beas waters, and this passage is the SYL Canal," it said.
The memorandum also mentioned SC's directions in its judgment on January 15, 2002, which, by way of a mandatory injunction, directed Punjab to continue the digging of SYL canal and make it functional within a year.
The SC also directed the Centre to "discharge its constitutional obligation" in this regard. If the canal is not completed in a year, the Centre should get it done "through its own agencies...so that Haryana would be able to draw the full quantity of water that has already been allotted to it".
Punjab had filed a review petition in the SC against its decision which was dismissed on March 5, 2002. Therefore, the verdict delivered on January 15, 2002 is the final decision, the memorandum said.
Punjab Cabinet yesterday gave nod for introducing "The Punjab Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal (Rehabilitation and Re-vesting of Proprietary Rights) Bill, 2016" in the ongoing session of state assembly to de-notify and return 5,376 acres of land acquired for the construction of SYL canal to the owners.
The step was intended to block sharing of water with Haryana.
Instead of following the SC decision, the then state government got the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, passed. This Act is not only an "open insult" to both the federal system and democracy but also causes an affront to the dignity of the Constitution, the memorandum said.
A Presidential reference in this regard is pending in the Supreme Court, it said.
"The Haryana government had raised this issue at the 27th meeting of the Northern Council held in Delhi on April 25, 2015. We had requested that the Solicitor General of India/ Attorney General should safeguard the Presidential reference and urge the SC to take prompt decision. This matter has been pending for the last about 11 years.
"Accepting our request, the Hon'ble Supreme Court started hearing on this matter on February 29 this year. Hearing was also held on March 8," the memorandum said.
"Even as the SC is seized of the matter, the Punjab government has issued statements in many newspapers stating that it will bring a Bill in the Vidhan Sabha to de-notify the land acquired for the SYL Canal and return it to the farmers, causing another grave injury to the very essence of the federal structure," it said.
The memorandum stated that the bill to de-notify land for construction of SYL canal "amounts to gross violation of the dignity of the Constitution", and urged him to make all possible efforts to stop its passage.