Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

Centre can play only limited role to resolve SYL row, say govt officials

- Moushumi Das Gupta moushumi.gupta@hindustant­imes.com

The Centre might have been made to mediate between Punjab and Haryana to resolve the Sutlej –Yamuna Link (SYL) canal water sharing agreement but there is very limited role it can play, senior government officials have told HT.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday deferred the hearing in the SYL canal case to April 27 after Centre said it has called a meeting with Punjab & Haryana on April 20. The apex court said it does not want to shut the door to an amicable solution.

Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi had informed the Supreme Court on Monday that the Centre has called the chief secretarie­s of both the states on April 20 for talks, in an attempt to find a solution to the over three decade old water row. The states are yet to confirm their participat­ion.

Article 262 of the Constituti­on provides that Centre can adjudicate any dispute with respect to the use, distributi­on or control of the waters of, or in, any interstate river or river valley.

However, in reality the Centre’s role is very limited. “Our role is neutral. We do not have a locus-standi to intervene as water is a state subject. Ultimately it is the states, which will have to take a final call on how to resolve the issue,” said an official.

Sources said the Centre is trying to come up with some workable options, to resolve the dispute. “The SYL case has become an emotive issue in both states. Unless political will is there and states are willing to come up with mutually agreeable alternativ­es, it will be difficult for the Centre to do anything. The worst case scenario will be abandoning the project,” said the source.

Punjab had earlier demanded setting up of a fresh tribunal to find out the actual quantum of water in Ravi and Beas rivers and accordingl­y decide how much water each state should get.

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