42 Congress MLAs resign over Sutlej water row in Punjab

Chandigarh,Nov11:42 Congress MLAs resign over Sutlej water row in Punjab.The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a 2004 Punjab law terminating all water-sharing arrangements with neighbouring states, a ruling that prompted all Congress MLAs to quit even as the SAD-BJP government vowed to defy the judicial ruling.

Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh also resigned yesterday from the Lok Sabha shortly after the top court declared as illegal and unconstitutional the legislation scrapping the agreements for sharing excess water of the Beas and Sutlej rivers with several northern states including Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi.

At the heart of the dispute is the 212-km-long Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal that would bring water from the rivers to the “dry and arid areas” in the southern part of Haryana, which had also moved the top court opposing the 2004 law.

Assembly elections are due in the state early next year and opposition parties led by the Congress pounced on the adverse court ruling to attack the SAD-BJP government.

Amarinder Singh, whose government had enacted the Termination of River Waters Act in 2004, blamed the Akalis for “bringing the people of Punjab to this pitiable situation, where they face imminent devastation due to acute water scarcity”.

He said Badal and his team “failed to defend Punjab’s stand in the court, leading to such disastrous consequences”.

The top court’s ruling came in response to a reference made by former President APJ Abdul Kalam on the request of the Centre.

Referring to a 1981 water-sharing agreement, the bench said it had legal sanction after the SC upheld it in 2002.

“Once an arrangement is a binding decree, a party cannot unilaterally act in a manner to nullify the effect of the judgment,” the court said.