The decision of Supreme Court to urge both states of Punjab and Haryana to organize Chief Minister level talks to arrive at an amicable settlement on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue, is a welcome step. Though there are grim chances of settlement as it’s a very sensitive issue for both states, but it has rekindled the hopes of residents of both states to see some out of court settlement.
It all started in 1981 when under a water-sharing agreement, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan agreed that the SYL canal project will be completed within two years. But later a dispute erupted as Punjab started claiming it does not have extra water to share with Haryana and finally case reached in court. Since 1996, case has been witnessing various rounds, but settlement has always eluded.
For the lack of consensus mainly politicians of both states are responsible as they have been issuing inflammatory and irresponsible statements to incite residents for political mileage. But none has shown seriousness to take required steps to solve it. During every elections, politicians of all parties of both states make big claims to save the water of their respective state. Punjab leader announces from stages that they would not give even single drop of water to Haryana. But Haryana leaders announce that they would take their share of water at any cost. Such dramas have been going on for the last many years, making things more complex.
Earlier, officers at the chief secretary-level from both states had met many times during 2019 as per the directions of Court. The Apex court of the country should form a special committee of judicial experts with a deadline to take the issue to its logical conclusion because bureaucrats always act as the puppets of their political bosses.