Punjab Waters — SYL Canal
A Seminar on Punjab Waters — SYL Canal was organised by Institute of Sikh Studies on November 10, 2002. Sardar Swaran Singh Boparai, Vice Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala presided over the morning session and Dr Sardara Singh Johl, Vice Chairman of Punjab State Planning Board, presided over the afternoon session. The speakers clearly brought out the fact that in the matter of distribution of river waters. Punjab’s constitutional rights have been violated. It was, therefore, resolved as follows :
a) The Punjab Government should file a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the vires of Sections 78, 79 and 80 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966. The Ravi, Beas and Satluj are Punjab rivers, and the Constitution vests sovereign legislate right in the people of riparian state.
b) The Punjab Government should also file immediately a review petition against the judgement of the Division Bench of the Supreme Court directing the State Government to complete construction of SYL by 15 January 2003.
Questions posed by Sardar Sawarn Singh Boparai
(Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala) in his Presidential remarks
1. Is it a fact that 60% of water of Satluj-Beas-Ravi basin has been diverted out of the basin into non-riparian, non-basin areas ?
2. Is it a fact that no other basin in the world has been exposed to exploitation of this magnitude ?
3. What has been the impact of such high exploitation of a basin on the ecology and economy of that basin ?
4. Is it a fact that the first ordinance of Government of India to amend River Water Disputes Act in 1986 was withdrawn by Government of India ?
5. Is it a fact that the ordinance was withdrawn after Punjab Government team in the high level Government of India committee in its response to invitation of the Government of India to the proposals for preparing a National Water Policy had objected to passing of such draconian unconstitutional legislation ?
6. Is it a fact that a second ordinance was promulgated which just changed semantics of the first ordinance and not substance ?
7. Does such haphazard thinking / legislation reflect on the objectivity and intentions of the Government of India ?
8. Is it a fact that the River Waters Dispute Act (as it stands after that amendment) is the only general enactment in the jurisprudence of the Free World which becomes specific by mentioning the names of Punjab rivers ?
9. Is it also a fact that this legislation even mentions distribution matters and limits / handicaps the Punjab State / people from pleading Riparian laws / practices prevalent in the world ? Is it justice with the rights of the State and human rights of the people of Punjab ?
10. Is it a fact that the Government of India leans towards Haryana ? Is it a fact that Chief Minister Sardar Darbara Singh was shouted at and ordered to resign by the then Prime Minister of India because he had refused to withdraw the matter from Supreme Court where Punjab Government had put in its petition ?
11. Is it a fact that the Punjab Government (Sardar Darbara Singh) withdrew that petition within a few days of that meeting ?
12. Would anybody in this country like to substantiate this fact from those present in that meeting and are still living ?
13. Would Institute of Sikh Studies investigate this matter and put all evidence on record for use when sanity returns to the prejudiced leaders of India ?
14. Is it a fact that SYL is now a part of a package called Rajiv-Longowal Accord which was welcomed with thumping of benches in the Parliament / Lok Sabha ?
15. Is it a fact that item no. I of that package has not been mentioned ?
16. Should constitutional authorities of the country go down the list and implement items at no. 4 or 5 of that package ?
17. Have packages been ever implemented only in parts to the benefit of one party and against the interests of the other party ?
18. Is it a fact that Punjab waters amount to only 33 MAF whereas waters of the nation amount to 317 MAF ?
19. Is it a fact that Punjab out of 33 MAF have shared 60% of their waters with non-riparian areas whereas what the rest of the country has shared with non-riparian areas is only 15% of water given by Punjab ?
20. One question now comes to one's mind : should the judiciary rush in, where non-angelic politicians fear to tread ? Punjab’s water issue has been muddled by prejudiced politicians. That is why they have not forced Punjab since Eradi Tribunal gave its award. Should now judiciary step-in — midway — without taking an overall view and ride rough shod to force an award which was born out of extremely narrow terms of reference.
21. A warning : a conspiracy of the corrupt to embarrass / ultimately unseat Amarinder Singh.