Hot water: A chronology of Punjab, Haryana’s Sutlej-Yamuna Link dispute



The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday asked chief minister to meet Manohar Lal Khattar, his counterpart, to reach an “amicable” solution on the Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue. The centre’s Jal Shakti Ministry will organise the meeting.


Mann has not responded to Khattar’s invitations for a meeting, India’s attorney general K K Venugopal told the court, according to the Times of India (TOI). A letter was given to Mann on April 4 but he has not responded, Venugopal said.


In April, the Assembly passed a resolution seeking the completion of the canal. “”The right of to share waters Ravi and Beas rivers by the construction of the SYL Canal was historically, legally, judicially and constitutionally established over time,” said Khattar when the resolution was passed.


What is the SYL issue?


SYL is a 214-km long canal for sharing the waters of the Ravi and Beas rivers between Haryana and . The issue first surfaced when Haryana was carved out of in 1966.


The central government then issued a notification asking Punjab to provide a part of the water from the two rivers to Haryana. Punjab, argued that it was against the riparian principle, which says that the water of a river belongs only to states or countries it flows through.


In India, “water resources” subject comes under the state list of the constitution. However, the union government has been given the authority to frame laws around inter-state rivers.


Here is a short timeline of the SYL issue.


1955


The centre assesses the total water flowing down the Ravi and Beas rivers at 15.85 million acre-feet (MAF) per year. It allocates the water to three states. 8 MAF to Rajasthan, 7.20 MAF to Punjab and 0.65 MAF to Jammu & Kashmir, as reported by Indian Express (IE).


1966


After Haryana is formed, Punjab is directed to give 3.5 MAF out of its share of 7.2 MAF to Haryana.


1981


The two rivers are reassessed and the water flowing is estimated at 17.17 MAF. As much as 4.22 MAF is allocated to Punjab, 3.5 MAF to Haryana and 8.6 MAF to Rajasthan. The states agree to the amount.


1982


Prime Minister launches the construction of the SYL project at Kapoori village in Patiala. Out of the 214-km canal, 122 km was to be constructed in Punjab and 92 in Haryana.


Soon, agitations under ‘Kapoori Morcha’ start across Punjab against the construction of the canal. The protests are mainly led by the Akalis.


1985


After Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Prime Minister and Akali chief Sant Harchand Singh Longowal sign an agreement to appoint a new tribunal to assess the water sharing. The Eradi tribunal led by Justice V Balakrishna Eradi is formed.


On August 20, less than a month after signing the accord, Longowal is killed by militants.


1987


The Eradi tribunal recommends increasing the share of Punjab and Haryana to 5 MAF and 3.83 MAF.


1990


Chief engineer ML Sekhri and superintendent engineer Avtar Singh Aulakh, executives involved in the canal’s construction, are killed by militants. In Majat village, several labourers are shot dead and the construction comes to a halt.


Punjab leaders ask the centre to not raise the issue again, IE said.


1996


The Haryana government moves Supreme Court for resolving the issue.


2002-04


Supreme Court directs the Punjab government to complete the pending construction.


2004


The Punjab assembly passes the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act (PTAA), terminating the water-sharing agreement. Amrinder Singh was the chief minister of Punjab at the time.


2016


Supreme Court says that as Punjab backed out of its promise to share river water and the PTAA is invalid.


2020


Courts asks the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana to negotiate and the centre to mediate.


It is reported that the availability of water in the Ravi and Beas rivers has now fallen to 13.38 MAF from 17.17 MAF in 1981.


Now, Haryana claims that the construction of the 92 km stretch on its territory has been completed.



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