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Centre unlikely to intervene in Punjab-Haryana water dispute

NEW DELHI: The Centre is unlikely to intervene in the ongoing dispute between Punjab and Haryana on sharing of water through Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal anytime soon saying the Governor has adequate Constitutional options to resolve the issue.

Kaptan Singh Solanki, who is officiating as Governor of both Haryana and Punjab, has adequate Constitutional provision to resolve the crisis, Union Home Ministry officials said. The Governor can sit indefinitely over the Bill passed by the Punjab Assembly to de-notify the land acquired for the SYL and its restoration back to the farmers or send the legislation to the President. “Punjab has to obey the Supreme Court order as it has no option else it amounts to breakdown of Constitution. However, whatever Punjab is doing looks like political posturing ahead of the next year’s Assembly elections,” a senior Home Ministry official said. If Punjab refuse to comply with the Supreme Court order to maintain status quo on land meant for the canal, it “will amount to breakdown of Constitution leading to imposition of President’s rule,” the official said.

Officials also discounted the possibility of any violence on the issue as there are enough Central forces stationed in both Punjab and Haryana to deal with any situation arising out of the dispute.

The SYL-canal row today hotted up with Punjab Assembly unanimously passing a resolution against its construction saying the state does not have water to share with Haryana, which accused Punjab of “crossing all limits” and decided to approach the Centre and Supreme Court.

The development came a day after Supreme Court directed status quo on land meant for SYL canal after Haryana alleged that attempts have been made to alter its use by levelling it. The standoff over the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal yesterday saw MLAs of opposition INLD in Haryana and Congress in Punjab attempting to storm each other’s Assemblies as the dispute threatened to embroil Delhi whose Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal opposed construction of the canal.

The Punjab Cabinet had on Tuesday decided to dispatch a cheque for Rs 191.75 crore back to Haryana which had sent towards construction of the SYL canal. Noting that Haryana government has shown strong resentment over Punjab’s “unconstitutional” move on SYL canal issue, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar yesterday said his government has returned the cheque for Rs 191.75 crore “in original” to Punjab.

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