The possibility of contentious issues between Punjab and Haryana moving towards resolution has increased with Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking the Chief Ministers of the two states to increase cooperation between each other.
The official residences of the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana are separated by a mere 300 metres here. A common secretariat building houses the offices of both the CMs. However, it took the two nearly 11 months to cover the distance. On Wednesday, Parkash Singh Badal accepted the invitation of his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar, and the two had breakfast together at the latter’s residence.
Significantly, the meeting happened just four days after PM Modi, during his Chandigarh visit, asked the two CMs to increase cooperation between each other. Both the CMs were present on the occasion when Khattar had addressed the neighbouring state as a “big brother” and Badal reciprocated by calling him pyare gwandi (dear neighbour).
Khattar had earlier accepted the invitation of Badal to watch the World Cup Kabaddi final towards the end of last year. Khattar had then invited Badal to be his guest sometime, but the meeting didn’t happen all this while.
Sources say the two CMs discussed several issues as they savoured bajre ki khichdi in the presence of some other ministers and bureaucrats. These included agriculture and the damage caused by whitefly to the cotton crop. The newly opened international airport also came up for discussion as things like widening of certain roads and constructing an underpass needed to be sorted out.
Experts say that there is a chance that the two states can have their differences sorted out. The row over the Sutlej Yamuna Link canal is a major issue. It was in 2004 that the Punjab Assembly had passed the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act, bringing to a halt the completion of the canal in Punjab’s territory. Punjab insisted it had no surplus water to spare for Haryana. The issue has been hanging fire since then.