Monday, January 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Why did Badal take Rs 2 cr from Devi Lal for SYL canal?

I have been following with interest the statements by various politicians and newspaper reports over the apex court verdict directing the Punjab Government to make the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal functional in its territory by January 15, 2003.

The news analysis “SYL canal issue: who is to blame” by PPS Gill is facually incorrect in pieces. First, he makes no mention of the Indus Water Treaty of 1960 with Pakistan by which India, not Punjab, had attained exclusive rights over the waters of the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers. Pakistan got exclusive rights over the waters of the Chenab, Jhelum and Indus rivers. The Ravi, Beas and Sutlej emanate in Himachal Pradesh and then traverse through Punjab. Before Independence, waters of all rivers were utilised in united Punjab and areas now in Pakistan through a network of canals.

Despite the Indus Water Treaty, waters of the Ravi were allowed to flow waste into Pakistan all these years mainly due to lack of pains by the successive governments at the Centre and in the states.

After the construction of the Bhakra Dam, waters to areas of Punjab, now known as Haryana were supplied through the Bhakra main line canal. None of the Punjab leaders, including Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who are crying hoarse over the riparian rights, have even once bothered to clarify why Mr Badal took Rs 2 crore from his Haryana counterpart, Devi Lal, in 1978-79 for starting construction of the SYL? Mr Devi Lal was then heading the Janata Party government in Haryana and Mr Badal the Akali Dal-Jana Sangh (now BJP) coalition in Punjab.


Why Mr Badal took Rs 2 crore from Mr Devi Lal continues to baffle till date. Was it because he obliged his “pugree Badal bhais”? When out of power, Mr Badal spearheaded an agitation against launching the construction of the SYL by the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at Kapoori village in Patiala district in April, 1980. Till the mid-80s when terrorists gunned down senior engineers and labourers, almost 90 per cent work of the SYL had been completed Mr Badal who returned to power in 1997 did not wind up the SYL outfit in Punjab till date.

It is incorrect to suggest that Punjab had spent Rs 600 crore and Haryana 250 crore on the SYL project. The Centre did the entire funding of the project. The news analysis is silent on vital issues as to why Mr Badal or for that matter Mr Surjit Singh Barnala did not close down the SYL office in their Irrigation Department.

D.P. SHARMA, Chandigarh

A canal of controversy: The editorial "A canal of controversy" (Jan 17) was clear, crisp and incisive. Mr Badal is guilty of "criminal contempt" as he has gone on record: "Let the whole of Punjab go to jail but not a single drop of water will go to Haryana through the SYL canal".

S.S. JAIN, Chandigarh

Riparian plea: How could you raise in the editorial the issue of riparian states when the Constitution strives for the cherished principle of federalism? Rather than castigating the Centre for its inaction, you have chosen the legal nitty-gritty to confuse and mislead the reader. Even if Haryana is not a riparian state, it was very much a part of erstwhile Punjab.

PARVEEN, Gurgaon

Get to real business: Punjab must have spent a few thousands crores of rupees on constructing the SYL canal in its territory. Every year due to the incomplete SYL, the state faces floods and spends a few hundred crores on the maintenance of the SYL canal.

The two proposed power houses — one near Ropar and another near Rajpura — can be functional only if Punjab completes the SYL canal and allows water into it. Equipment worth crores of rupees is gathering dust at the proposed sites of the power houses. The state spends huge money on the staff for the canal.


Suggestions for FM

May I give a few suggestions to Mr Yashwant Sinha. First, abolish personal income tax since the revenue collected is relatively too meagre. It will also drastically reduce corruption. Introduce a full-fledged VAT, replacing excise, sales tax and octroi. Withdraw subsidies totally and rationalise the rates of electricity, petroleum products, fertilisers and food items. Cut drastically the government's huge expenditure. Hasten the disinvestment process and free money for infrastructure projects.

R.C. SHARMA, Kurukshetra

Kasauli Club

Now that the Kasauli Club has been reduced to ashes, it's reconstruction or otherwise needs a careful examination. Of late, many unethical persons and rowdy businessmen had worked their way into the club. They had viewed it only as a place for getting drunk and flaunting their wealth. These worthiest had spoilt the gentlemanly cultural ethos due to their boorish behaviour. They seldom followed the dress code.

It would be far better to start a Defence Service Officers' Institute (DSOI) rather than reconstruct the club.


Passengers’ plight

Private bus operators carrying passengers from Ludhiana shift them to another bus, inconvenencing aged and women passengers with bags or/and children. On reaching Mohali, they give them Rs 8 each and ask them to board other buses for Chandigarh. Will the authorities concerned look into this?


Balenos for ministers

Apropos of the news item "Balenos for ministers" (Jan. 15), the poor old Ambassador with a red light is a symbol of power and dignity, besides being a secure structure made of metal. Why waste money on the Balenos? Once there were leaders who discarded such luxuries.


They can do it

Under Chandarbabu Naidu, Hyderabad has become one of the cleanest cities of the country. Roads are cleaned between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.; traffic is disciplined. There are no beggars on roads. Posters are not allowed on walls. There is lot of improvement in the working of various government offices.

In Surat one Municipal Commissioner overhauled the entire working of the city. He had given Surat a new look by his dedication.

In Ludhiana Mr Sandhu, former Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, was doing a wonderful job in changing the look of the city. Had he been permitted to stay there for another three years, he would have transformed Ludhiana into one of the top cities of the country. All others coming and going are decorated by the chair, whereas these people have actually decorated the chair.

S.R. MITTAL, Ludhiana

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