- Have to look at the issue from national security view, says Punjab CM
- Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal will become a national problem, he says
- He adds that Haryana and Rajasthan will also suffer the impact
Punjab will burn and the state's water-sharing dispute with Haryana will transform into a national security problem if the Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal is completed, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh warned the Centre on Tuesday at a virtual meeting, which was also attended by Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
"You have to look at the issue from the national security perspective. If you decide to go ahead with SYL, Punjab will burn and it will become a national problem, with Haryana and Rajasthan also suffering the impact," Mr Singh said at the meeting, which he described as "positive and cordial".
The water dispute had started in 1966 when Punjab and Haryana states came into existence. Haryana had demanded a large chunk of river water which Punjab refused to provide, contending it didn't have surplus water. The Indira Gandhi government in 1975, by way of an executive order, had divided the water between the two states and commissioned the canal to facilitate sharing.
In 1982, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had started the construction of the canal. The Shiromani Akali Dal had launched a massive agitation against it. In 1985, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had met SAD chief Harchand Singh Longowal and signed an accord for a new tribunal. Mr Longowal was killed by militants less than a month of signing the accord.
In 1990, a chief engineer ML Sekhri and a Superintending Engineer Avtar Singh Aulakh - both linked to the canal - were killed by militants.
The meeting on Tuesday was held on the directions of the Supreme Court, which asked the two chief ministers last month to discuss the completion of the SYL canal, which is in the works for several decades.
At the meeting, Mr Singh reiterated his demand for a tribunal to make a fresh time-bound assessment of the water availability, even as he sought complete share of water for his state from the total resource available, including from River Yamuna.
He, however, said that he was ready to sit and discuss the issue with his Haryana counterpart.
"Why would I not agree to give water if we had it," he said at the meeting.
According to a Punjab government statement, Mr Shekhawat was of the view that the canal should be completed while discussions to resolve the water dispute continue.
Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar later told the reporters that the two states will meet in Chandigarh for further talks on the issue.