One political controversy after another has been brewing in the state of Punjab, ever since the AAP came to power in the state. Now, the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) row has snowballed into a political controversy and has witnessed some uncalled-for remarks from the AAP leadership in the state.

‘Not a single drop of water to other states’, says Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Cheema

The AAP has made it clear that not a single drop of water would be allowed to flow out from Punjab into another state. The declaration was made by Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Cheema himself. He said that Punjab has the sole right over its waters.

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Going further, Cheema said, “Not a single drop of water would be allowed to flow out. We are ready to make any sacrifice for preserving the riparian rights of Punjab. I am surprised that the parties that are now raising the issue are the ones who let the issue build up during their successive turns in the government. They know how to play politics on this sensitive issue. We are also making many groundwater conservation schemes and schemes to stop water pollution.”

Caught on the wrong foot?

Water is a very basic necessity, especially in Punjab and its bordering states like Haryana that are heavily dependent on agriculture and need ample water supply for irrigation. So, the statement made by the AAP government in Punjab seems rather tough. But what triggered it in the first place?

Well, AAP seems to have been caught on the wrong foot. Recently, AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Gupta said that “By 2025, there would be an AAP government in Haryana, which would ensure coordination with the AAP government in Punjab in the construction of the SYL and its water to every field”.

Soon, a political controversy took shape in Punjab, with both the Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) seeking clarification from the AAP government in Punjab. And the AAP government therefore may have decided to clarify its stand with a tough remark.

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Over-compensating after Gupta’s remarks

Once, the AAP government found itself at the centre of a political controversy, you could have imagined that it will clarify that it won’t compromise on the SYL issue. When it comes to Punjab and Haryana, the project has always been a contentious matter. Punjab demands a reassessment of its share of the Ravi-Beas rivers water, whereas Haryana demands completion of the SYL canal project to get its share of water.

But at the end of the day, the dispute is a legal-administrative dispute that can be solved through appropriate mechanisms. To say that “not a drop of water” will be given to other states doesn’t befit a state government in the country. After all, people of every state have a right to get a very basic need like water and sustain life. Yes, how much water should go to which state may be a matter of dispute but at no point do we expect one state to say that it will not let a single drop of water go to another state.

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