SYL issue: Abhay Chautala says BJP should not do 'drama' of fasting, force Pb to give water

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Chandigarh, Dec 22 (PTI) Hours after Abhay Singh Chautala said his party INLD will back the Haryana government on blocking its borders with Punjab to stop the movement of people and goods till the neighbouring state gives its share of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) water, the leader claimed he did not make such a statement.

On Tuesday, Chautala had said BJP leaders in the state should stop doing 'drama' of sitting on fast on the SYL issue and rather force neighbouring Punjab to give Haryana's rightful share of water, for which his party was ready to extend any support.

“When we used to raise the SYL issue in Vidhan Sabha, they said the matter was pending before the Supreme Court. Now, what are they fasting for? The Supreme Court has ruled in Haryana's favour, then what is the need of fast,' Chautala told reporters here.

He further said governments don't sit on 'upwaas' (fasting) demonstration but get decisions implemented.

“When Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh farmers are sitting (protesting), let the government take the decision today. We will support them that till the time we do not get our rightful share of water, we will not allow anyone to enter through Haryana's borders with Punjab. We will stop the movement of their goods going into that state from here till we get our share of water. Let them take a decision, why do they do drama of 'upwaas' (fast),” he told reporters.

However, later in the evening, Chautala claimed that he had not made any statement supporting blocking of the border with Punjab.

“I have not made any statement pertaining to blocking of roads to Punjab,” he claimed, adding that his reference was to another statement he had made in July 2017.

During the press conference, Chautala said over the years the INLD has been constantly making efforts so that Haryana gets its 'rightful share of water'.

He recalled that three years ago, his party workers had blocked all entry points to Punjab “to make them realise that if they stop our share of water we will not allow them to enter Haryana”.

Chautala, the younger son of INLD president and former chief minister O P Chautala, said the BJP has been in power for six years in Haryana but it never showed any seriousness on the SYL issue.

He said amid the protests of farmers against the Centre's new farm laws, the state BJP leadership was raising the SYL issue “to divide the peasants but that is not going to happen. Farmers will make the Centre repeal the agri laws”.

Chautala claimed that some BJP leaders from the state were now enacting a “drama” of staging “upwaas” (fast) demonstrations in support of SYL.

'Had the chief minister been so concerned about the water issue, why would he allow his government to scrap Dadupur Nalvi canal project, on which Rs 340 crore had already been spent and which would have been particularly beneficial to help irrigate lands in Ambala, Kurukshetra and Yamunanagar,” the INLD leader asked.

Opposing the SYL canal project, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had recently warned that “Punjab will burn” if the state is forced to share water with Haryana.

SYL has been a contentious issue between the two states, with the Punjab portion of the canal still incomplete. The construction began in 1982.

Punjab has been demanding a reassessment of the Ravi-Beas river waters' volume, while Haryana has been seeking completion of the SYL canal to get its share of 3.5 million acre-feet (MAF).

Chautala asserted that the party is 'solidly behind farmers' fighting against the three new agri laws.

Responding to a question, Chautala said he will readily resign as a legislative assembly member if farmers make such a demand. 'Chaudhary Devi Lal's blood runs in my veins, I will not take a minute to resign..,” he said. PTI SUN VSD RDM RDM