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Centre asks Punjab to submit SYL canal record
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
The legislation passed by the Punjab Government abrogating all agreements regarding river waters sharing with the neighbouring states notwithstanding, the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), which has been assigned the task of the completion of the SYL canal by the Union Government, has asked the state government to hand over to it all the relevant record with regard to the canal.

Informed official sources told The Tribune today that the CPWD authorities concerned had sought the record regarding the acquisition of the land for the canal and also drawings of its design etc. The CPWD top officers had held a number meetings in this connection with the state officers concerned at Delhi, where its (CPWD) headquarters are located, in the past few days. The state government is supposed to hand over possession of the canal in Punjab area by July 15 as a compliance with the instructions passed by the Supreme Court in this regard.

The Central agency has told the state government that the land acquired for the canal should be free from all sorts of encumbrances. It has sought written assurance from the state government that no part of the land acquired for the canal was involved in any legal case.

Asked to comment on the state government’s legislation abrogating all the agreements with regard to the river waters and thus freeing itself from “ all obligations under the agreement of December 31, 1981 etc”, the CPWD authorities said that “ we have no comment to offer in this connection as this issue is a subject matter of the Union Government”.

“The Central Government had instructed us to take up the canal work and we were proceeding accordingly,” said the authorities.

The Central Water Commission ( CWC) has been coordinating with the CPWD, the Punjab Government, the Haryana Government and other government agencies concerned with regard to the canal work.

In fact a large part of the canal was constructed in Punjab’s boundary till 1990.But the work on the canal had to be abandoned in July, 1990, following the killing of two top officers of the Punjab Irrigation Department which had been constructing the canal. Before the killing of officers, a large number of labourers working on the canal were killed near Phabat village, near Kharar, and one other place.

Before resuming the construction work, every inch of all existing works, including lining, bridges, siphons and other cross-bed works would be surveyed and critically examined from the engineering point of view. “ We need at least six months time to complete the survey of the entire stretch that is little over 120 km in the Punjab zone”, said one of the top officers of CPWD when contacted in Delhi.

“Only after the survey, our officials concerned will be able to make an exact assessment of the quantum of work to be handled by our agency”, said the CPWD officer. It was difficult to say at this stage what part of the works already executed would be retained and what part would be built again after removing the existing one, he added. After the survey, estimates of the works to be built afresh would be prepared and the amount required for these works would sought from the Union Government”, he added.

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