M A I N   N E W S

Decades on, SYL canal issue hangs fire
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
With Haryana politicians joining hands on the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal and seeking Centre’s intervention to get it completed, the issue is back to the fore after a gap of 10 years when the Punjab Assembly had passed Punjab Termination of Agreements Act 2004 to avoid the completion of the canal in its territory.

The Termination of the Agreements Act had created a furore at the national level forcing the Central Government to intervene on the issue hanging fire for the past four decades.

A major part of the canal was completed in the Punjab territory in 1990s after spending over Rs 750 crore. Only a small portion of it remained to be completed in 1990s when the work on it was abandoned. The canal now is in ruins with brick lining peeling off at many places. Bushes and wild growth have come up on its bed at most of the places. During the rainy season, the canal turns into a big water channel flooding fields along its course on the either side owing to breaches on its banks.

When its digging began in 1984, Punjab was already on the boil. Militancy was at its peak. A morcha was launched under the command of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal against the canal and for the implementation of the demands mentioned in the Anandpur Sahib Resolution.

Opposed to the construction of the canal, militants killed a number of labourers engaged in the construction of canal near Majat, a few miles away from Landran. Two senior engineers were also shot dead in Chandigarh.

In fact, agitation began with the laying of the foundation stone of the canal on April 8, 1982 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at Kapoori village in Patiala district, at a short distance from Haryana boundary. To oppose the construction of the canal, Akalis launched the morcha at Kapoori and later shifted its base to Amrtisar.

Designed to carry 10,500 cusecs of water, the canal was to carry 6,500 cusecs of water to Haryana. The canal takes off from the tail of Anandpur Sahib Hydel Channel near Lohand Khad, a few miles away from Kiratpur Sahib in Ropar district and enters Haryana near Kapoori village in Patiala district. Besides carrying water to a part of Haryana, it was also to cater to the irrigation needs to some village of Ropar and Patiala districts. Two small hydro power plants — one near Ropar and other near Rajpura — were also set up along the canal to generate power.

With the reorganisation of Punjab in 1966, dispute over various issues, including river waters, transfer of Punjabi-speaking areas and Chandigarh, erupted between Punjab and Haryana. On March 24, 1976, the Central Government issued a notification allocating Punjab and Haryana equal share of 3.5 MAF from river waters to each and 8 MAF to Rajasthan and 0.20 MAF to Delhi.

However, Punjab challenged the award in the Supreme Court. But Indira Gandhi intervened to get the issue settled on December 31, 1981. At her behest, Punjab withdrew the suit from the Supreme Court. However, by then the issue had assumed a full political dimension and SAD started campaigning against it and launched a morcha.

In 1985, an attempt was made again to settle the issue with the signing of the Rajiv-Longowal accord. However, the issue continues to hang fire till date. Yesterday, the Haryana Assembly unanimously passed a resolution urging the Centre to intervene to get the canal completed. An all-party delegation from Haryana has planned to meet the Prime Minister in this regard.

Punjab leadership, including Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and former CM Amarinder Singh, have been asserting that the state has no surplus water to give to Haryana. Badal has been claiming that under the internationally accepted Riparian laws, Haryana has no claim over river waters flowing in Punjab. He has been saying the Centre had discriminated against Punjab over the allocation of the river waters to neighbouring states.

Haryana seeks Centre’s intervention

  • The Haryana Assembly on Monday passed a resolution urging the Centre to intervene to get the canal completed. An all-party delegation from Haryana plans to meet the Prime Minister in this regard

Haryana has no water share: Punjab

  • The Shiromani Akali Dal on Tuesday condemned the Haryana Government for getting passed a resolution on the SYL canal in the Assembly
  • The SAD said Haryana had no right over the rivers waters of Punjab. “Under the Riparian rules and regulations, Haryana is not entitled for any share from the river waters in Punjab,” said a SAD spokesman
  • Punjab needed several times more river waters than available to it now to cater to its needs regarding farming and to meet other requirements, the SAD said.





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