Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Saturday said Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal was not merely a political issue but an emotive one and demanded that it be tackled as top priority with utmost sensitivity as river water was the lifeline of every Punjabi. 

Talking to media persons on the sidelines of the first convocation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University held here at its campus, Badal said Punjab had been discriminated against on every issue be it political, social, economic or religious by the successive Congress governments at Centre.

Punjab was denied its rightful share in river water during the water distribution done thrice in over five decades in brazen defiance of an internationally and nationally accepted riparian principle, he said. 

Rebuking the Congress leadership for accusing SAD-BJP government of deliberately raking up the SYL issue ahead of the 2017 assembly polls, the Chief Minister said the people of the state were custodians of the river water and would not allow sharing of a single drop with any other state as Punjab didn’t have spare water to share. 

Badal asked Congress to stop doing politics on the issue and criticizing the alliance which had already made clear its stand that their leadership was prepared to make any sacrifice to save the river water. 

Badal castigated the Congress for dubbing former Chief Minister and President PPCC Amarinder Singh as the ‘savior of waters’ for passage of Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, claiming that in reality this legislation was an unintentional admission of guilt by Congress government for betraying the people of the state. 

Earlier in his convocation address, the Chief Minister said the state government would soon come out with a policy within the legal framework to regularise the services of its adhoc/contract employees for ensuring job security to them. 

He said he had already deputed Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary and Advocate General to find ways to regularise the services of these employees. 

The Chief Minister also expressed concern on the "exploitation" of qualified youth by hiring them for paltry amounts, especially in the private sector. 

About 478 students from different streams in graduate and post-graduate courses were awarded degrees and 10 students were honoured with medals for outstanding academic record. 

On the occasion, former Army Chief and Chairman Chiefs-of-Staff General (Retd) Bikram Singh and former IFS Bhagwant Singh Dalawari were conferred honorary degrees of Doctor of Science and Doctor of Literature, both (Honouris Causa) respectively for outstanding services rendered in their fields.