Congress protests at Punjab assembly on water-sharing

Chandigarh, March 8: The opposition Congress held a protest at the Punjab assembly complex just ahead of the start of the budget session of the state assembly here on Tuesday, Mrach 8.

Congress legislators, carrying black flags, wearing black headbands and carrying placards, entered the assembly complex and raised slogans against the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance government in the state.


The Congress legislators boycotted the address of Punjab Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki.

Some legislators jumped the assembly complex gates to enter the assembly complex as security personnel tried to prevent their entry.

The Congress has accused the state government, led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, of selling the interests of Punjab on the issue of sharing of river water with neighbouring states.

The Congress said that it will not allow Punjab's water to be shared through the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal with neighbouring Haryana.

Chief Minister Badal told media on Tuesday that the state government will give a statement on the SYL issue on the floor of the house.

Badal had said last week that Punjab "did not have a single drop of water to spare from its rivers and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) would ensure that there is no compromise on the inalienable rights of the state under the Riparian principle".

The Supreme Court had accepted the petition filed by the Haryana government for early hearing on the issue of the SYL canal, on which Presidential Reference was pending. The matter will come up for hearing before the apex court on Tuesday.

Both Punjab and Haryana have been locked in a bitter war of words over sharing of river waters. The apex court is taking up the matter when Punjab is just about one year from assembly polls which are to be held in February next year and political parties have taken a stand on the issue.

The Congress government in Punjab had, in 2004, scrapped the water sharing agreements with neighbouring states and had refused to give any water to other states, especially Haryana.

The Presidential Reference was sought after the Punjab Assembly unilaterally passed the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act 2004, categorically stating that it was nullifying all agreements on water sharing and that no more water would be given to Haryana.

The SYL Canal, that was planned and major portions of it were even completed in the 1990s at a cost of over Rs.750 crore at that time, is entangled in a political and legal quagmire with Punjab and Haryana states unwilling to give up their respective stand on the controversial canal issue and sharing of river waters.

The canal that was to link two major rivers in Punjab and Haryana is awaiting a Presidential Reference for the past nearly 12 years to decide its fate.

The foundation stone of the SYL canal was laid in April 1982 by then prime minister Indira Gandhi.

At that time, terrorism was on the rise in Punjab and the issue became a sensitive one with leaders in Punjab raking up the water sharing issue.

Terrorists gunned down labourers and officials involved in SYL construction to get the project stalled.

Several kilometres of the canal were made in Punjab and Haryana but the project never got completed.

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