Riverwaters Dispute: GoI initiates secret parleys between Punjab, Haryana

Chief Ministers Capt Amarinder Singh, Manohar Lal Khattar are expected to hold one-to-one meeting soon

DW Bureau / Chandigarh

The Narendra Modi Government is making serious efforts to ensure an amicable solution to the vexed riverwaters issue between the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana. As the case is scheduled to come up before a new Bench of the Supreme Court in the second week of July, Prime Minister Modi has reportedly instructed the Union Water Resources Ministry to proactively prepare the ground for an amicable settlement of the issue, it is learnt.

Top sources said that the Union Water Resources Secretary, Dr Amarjit Singh on Tuesday made a whirlwind visit to Chandigarh and separately held meetings with the Haryana CM, Manohar Lal Khattar and the Punjab CM, Capt Amarinder Singh. In Punjab, the meeting was attended by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh, Advocate General Atul Nanda, Media Adviser to CM Raveen Thukral, Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, Chief Secretary Karan A Singh, Special Chief Secretary (Irrigation) K B S Sidhu, Financial Commissioner (Development) Satish Chandra, Principal Secretary to CM Tejvir Singh and Special Principal Secretary to CM Gurkirat Kirpal Singh.

Sources said intead of giving precedence to officer-level meeting at Delhi where top Punjab and Haryana officers would be invited for discussions, it was agreed upon that the two CMs should informally meet to send a proper signal down the line about their willingness to negotiate on the contentious issue. “Capt Singh said in the meeting that he has no hassles in walking down to the Haryana CM’s residence or office in the Secretariat — both of which are adjacent,” said a source.

It may be mentioned that Punajb has already made its stand clear to the Centre that the SYL should not be constructed at any cost and that Punjab would not compromise on this issue. However, as regards the Hansi Butana canal that was expected to irrigate Southern and South-West areas within Haryana, Punjab may be willing to make a concession even as the Supreme Court has granted a stay on an application filed by the State of Punjab.

While the Centre has been making all attempts to mediate to resolve the riverwaters dispute, Punjab has still been pressing for the constitution of a new Tribunal in view of the grossly reduced availability of water so that the shares of various claiming States can be determined and adjudicated in accordance with internationally established riparian principles as well as  current usage.

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