‘Punjab will burn’: Amarinder Singh urges Centre to be cautious on SYL Canal issue

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday urged the Centre to look at the contentious Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal issue from the national security perspective. His remarks came after a meeting, convened by the Jal Shakti ministry, to discuss the issue. It was also attended by the Haryana CM and Union Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.

“You have to look at the issue from the national security perspective. If you decide to go ahead with Sutlej Yamuna Link, Punjab will burn and it’ll become a national problem, with Haryana and Rajasthan also suffering from the impact,” Singh was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

The meeting, held through video conferencing, followed the Supreme Court’s direction to the Centre on July 28 to mediate between the two states to resolve the long-pending SYL issue.

The meeting was held on the directions of the Supreme Court, which asked the two CMs last month to discuss the completion of the SYL canal by Punjab, which is in the works for many years.

The Punjab CM sought complete share of water for his state from the total resources available, including from river Yamuna.

“Today there was a meeting between Haryana, us and the minister of water resources. I told them that after the division of Punjab in 1966, all assets of ours were shared on a 60:40 basis, except water, because they included the water of Ravi, Beas and Sutlej but not Yamuna.

I have suggested that they should include the water of Yamuna also and then divide it on a 60:40 basis,” Singh said.

Haryana chief minister ML Khattar, who along with Shekhawat, joined the meeting from Delhi, said that both the CMs expressed their views on the issue and a second round of talks will be held soon.

Haryana has stuck to its stance that its share of 3.5 million acre feet (MAF) in the Ravi and Beas waters and the completion of the canal are absolutely non-negotiable. At present, Haryana gets 1.62 MAF of Ravi and Beas waters. Punjab on the other hand is furthering an argument that the volume of water available in its rivers has drastically reduced over the years.

The 212-km canal was to carry Haryana’s share of water to its southern parts. While 122 km of the canal was to run through Punjab, the remaining 90km was to pass through Haryana.

Haryana completed its stretch of the SYL Canal in 1980 at a cost of Rs 56 crore, while Punjab kept delaying the construction.

(With inputs from agencies)

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