The more than six decade old water dispute between Punjab and Haryana on Thursday expected yet another dimension with the Supreme Court holding as unlawful the 2004 law passed by Punjab to terminate the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal water sharing agreement with neighbouring states. “Every one of the inquiries have been replied in the negative,” a five-judge seat headed by Justice A R Dave said, while purporting its choice on thepresidential reference received by it.

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| Image Courtesy – Indian Express |

The judgment makes it clear that the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 is “unlawful” and Punjab couldn’t have taken a “unilateral” choice to end the water offering consent to Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Chandigarh. All Congress Party MLA’s have sent their resignation as a protest over the order. Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh have also quit as an MP from the Lok Sabha, according to Times Now. Here’s the tweet –

The SYL Dispute History

Satluj Yamuna link is  a canal that is built between river Sutlej and Yamuna to provide water for the farmers of Haryana  from the Punjab side. It is about 122 km long and total length is about 495 km which includes the sub-canals. Then prime minister Indira Gandhi laid the foundation when Darbara Singh was the chief minister of Punjab.

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| Image Courtesy – Quora |

In Jan 29, 1955 Punjab, PEPSU, Rajasthan, Kashmir sign agreement for water utilisation of Ravi and Beas. Later, In September 1960, India and Pakistan agrees on sharing of water of Satlej , Ravi and Beas and thus signs Indus water treaty. In 1966, Haryana was carved out of Punjab and in 1971, Centre’s high level panel recommends to share Punjab’s water with Haryana and proposes providing 3,78 MAF to Haryana and 3.07 to Punjab.

After few years , Center issues notifications to build Sutlej-Yamuna link canal (SYL) to be constructed which was earlier proposed by Haryana. Haryana constructed the canal on their part but Punjab was not ready to construct it .Despite the pressure from the central government and Haryana , construction did not began as it was against the interests of Punjab. In 1985, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Akali Dal president Sant Harchand Singh Longowal signed “Sttlement Accord”. Construction began but it was slow and delayed frequently and later there were regular orders from Water Tribunal to to complete canal construction expeditiously.

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| Image Courtesy – ClearIAS |

This mater heated up in 2004 when then chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh terminated the contracts for water sharing with the neighboring states . This matter is under Supreme Court of India till now.\ On 21st March 2016, the Punjab Assembly passed the Punjab SYL Canal (Rehabilitation and Re-vesting of Proprietary Rights) Bill 2016, seeking to return land acquired for the canal’s construction to the original owners free of cost.

A copy of the court’s order is yet to be made public. Stay tuned to us for further updates!

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