Upping the ante on the Sutlej- Yamuna Link (SYL) issue, Haryana's principal opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) said today that it will fight a do- or-die battle if the Centre fails to take up the construction of the canal by July 10.
Senior INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala said party workers will stop Punjab Roadways buses and other government vehicles from the neighbouring state in Ambala on July 10 as a symbolic protest, if the demand was not met.
The Supreme Court has made it clear that the canal has to be constructed and Punjab must give the due share of water to Haryana, said Chautala, the Leader of Opposition in Haryana Assembly.
INLD workers are sitting on 'dharnas' at sub-divisional levels in their respective assembly constituencies in Haryana and have been submitting memoranda to their respective deputy commissioners on the SYL issue, he told reporters.
Chautala said that last year, the Supreme Court had held as unconstitutional, the 2004 law passed by Punjab to terminate the SYL canal water sharing agreement.
He also alleged that the BJP government in Haryana had failed to exert enough pressure on the Centre to take up the canal's construction.
"Today, 60 per cent of Haryana, which also includes areas other than the southern part, is in the dark zone. Water table has fallen to alarming levels. We will start a massive stir and fight a do-or-die battle if Centre does not take up the construction of the SYL canal by July 10," Chautala said.
He said if the state failed its share of water despite the Apex Court verdict, then vast swathes of land will turn barren and farmers will be forced to migrate to other states.
"In July, we will intensify our stir which will then be like a war, and we can go to any extent to protect Haryana's rights. We can sacrifices our lives for the cause of SYL, which is our lifeline," Chautala said.
Hitting out at BJP government in the State, he said it had failed to properly plead Haryana's case.
"The Chief Minister even failed to get a proper hearing from the Prime Minister on the crucial issue. When we met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, we told him that the Centre must immediately take up the canal's construction as the court verdict is clearly in our favour," he said.
He said Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had failed to effectively put Haryana's case on SYL during the North Zone Council meeting held here last week and was chaired by Singh.
In that meeting, we should have snubbed Punjab and rejected its offer of dialogue between the two states on the SYL issue as the verdict is clearly in Haryana's favour, he said.
The INLD leader also hit out at the Punjab unit of the BJP for throwing its weight behind the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government on the SYL issue.
He also hit out at the Congress, saying when they were in power for ten years in Haryana, but had failed to do much on the SYL issue.
He said that all parties in Haryana must rise above petty politics and join hands to put pressure on the Centre on the issue.
Chautala had over two months back tried to march to Punjab from near Shambhu barrier on the Haryana-Punjab border to undertake the digging of the SYL canal. He was arrested for breaching prohibitory orders.
However, he and other INLD leaders were later released by the Punjab Police.
Around two months back, hundreds of INLD supporters from Haryana had flooded the Parliament Street in the heart of the national capital to protest over the SYL canal issue.
Haryana was carved out of Punjab in 1966 after which the water-sharing agreement came into being in 1981.
For effective allocation of water, the SYL canal link was conceptualised and both the states were required to construct portions within their territories.
Haryana constructed its portion of SYL canal but Punjab, after the initial phase, stopped the work, leading to a spate of litigations.
In 2004, the Congress government in the state came out with the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act with an intention to terminate the 1981 agreement and all other pacts relating to sharing of waters of rivers Ravi and Beas.
The apex court had first decreed the suit of Haryana in 2002 asking Punjab to honour its commitments with regard to water sharing.
Punjab had challenged the verdict by filing an original suit that was rejected in 2004 by the Supreme Court which asked the Centre to take over the remaining infrastructural work of the SYL canal project.