‘Not taking sides’: Delhi govt distances from SYL dispute

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) state government in Delhi on Monday distanced itself from the dispute between Haryana and Punjab on sharing river water through the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal.

The Arvind Kejriwal-government submitted before the Supreme Court that it didn’t want to take sides but was more concerned about Delhi’s water share under the project. Appearing for the Delhi government, senior advocate Indira Jaising told a constitution bench headed by justice AR Dave that her client would not go into the controversy of who was right. She requested the court to ensure that Delhi’s share of water was protected under the law. The Supreme Court is hearing the Presidential Reference on the SYL dispute.

“We insist that the allocation to us should come. For us, the matter of concern is that the allocation of water should be protected,” Indira Jaising submitted. The Delhi government’s latest stand comes a week after it withdrew written submissions filed in the Supreme Court on behalf of Delhi Jal Board (DJB), in which it had supported Haryana. It was forced to do so after the Akali government of Parkash Singh Badal in Punjab accused Kejriwal of doublespeak on the SYL issue. Kejriwal was accused of telling voters in Punjab that the state did not have even a drop of water to share with Haryana, and saying exactly the opposite in the top court.

On March 14, the Punjab assembly passed a bill against building the SYL, allowing the return of canal land to farmers for agriculture. Three days later, the Supreme Court halted the move and appointed the Union home secretary and Punjab’s chief secretary and director general of police (DGP) as “joint receivers” of land and other SYL property till further orders. Punjab said it had the right to terminate the water-sharing agreement with its neighbour.

Advocate Suresh Tripathy, who had filed the written submission for the DJB and was sacked for acting beyond instructions, said the AAP government had claimed wrongly that he was not authorised to file the papers.

At this, the bench asked Delhi government counsel Indira Jaising to sort out the issue, to which the she agreed, saying: “The submissions suggest that the Delhi government is supporting a particular party, which is not the case.”


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