In a fervent plea to the people of Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal issued a stern warning against any central team attempting to survey land for the controversial Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal. Speaking passionately, Badal declared that his party would staunchly resist any attempts to divert even a single drop of water to Haryana, regardless of the directives from the highest court or potential military intervention sanctioned by the Prime Minister. His impassioned address took place in Kapuri village, Patiala, a site historically significant for the Akali Dal’s protest against the canal’s construction.
Badal’s strong stance against the SYL canal was met with a decisive action plan. He announced the Akali Dal’s intention to encircle Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s official residence on October 10, emphasizing that senior party leaders, members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, and Youth Akali Dal volunteers would actively participate. According to Badal, this move aimed to hold Mann accountable, blaming him for jeopardizing Punjab’s interests concerning the SYL canal. Badal accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of surrendering to the Supreme Court during the SYL canal hearings, alleging that Mann’s compliance was to appease his ally, Arvind Kejriwal, who purportedly sought to channel Punjab’s river water to Haryana and Rajasthan for political gains in those states’ upcoming elections.
Badal emphatically asserted that Punjab had neither surplus water nor an operational canal, rendering the notion of diverting water to Haryana inconceivable. He underscored that the land initially acquired for the canal had been returned to farmers by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in 2016. This move was a strategic decision based on the absence of a functional canal and Punjab’s water scarcity. Sukhbir Badal vehemently rejected the possibility of sharing Punjab’s already scarce water resources with neighbouring Haryana.
Meanwhile, Congress’ Punjab unit chief, Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, voiced concerns about the potential repercussions if a decision unfavourable to Punjab was reached regarding the SYL canal. He expressed worry that further water sharing would severely impact Punjab’s farmers, effectively spelling doom for the state. Urging unity among political parties on the issue, Warring called upon the BJP-led central government to empathetically consider Punjab’s predicament. He criticized the central government’s lack of initiative, highlighting their reluctance to address the matter in 2017 and subsequent attempts to involve the Supreme Court.
The escalating tension surrounding the SYL canal not only exposed deep-rooted political divisions but also underscored the acute water crisis faced by Punjab. The conflict between states over water resources, legal battles, and political posturing posed significant challenges for the region. As the struggle for water resources intensified, the fate of Punjab’s agricultural backbone hung in the balance, making it imperative for all stakeholders to find a viable, sustainable solution to the SYL canal issue.