Once burning issue for politicians, SYL canal no longer holds water : The Tribune India

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Once burning issue for politicians, SYL canal no longer holds water

Promised return of 5,376 acres by state in 2016, wait for landowners continues

Once burning issue for politicians, SYL canal no longer holds water


Tribune News Service

Aman Sood

Ghanaur, May 16

One of the crucial issues concerning Punjab, the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal hogs media limelight only when there is a court hearing or a Central team visiting Punjab. Residents in Ghanaur and Rajpura, from where this canal passes through to enter Haryana, say that parties opposing SYL in Punjab continue to support it in Haryana while they assure an early solution when in Centre.

Built to handle 10,500 cusecs water, the canal was to carry 6,500 cusecs to parts of Haryana. The canal, which is now a defunct one with dilapidated banks and wild growth is not an election issue anymore with all parties playing politics. “No party or candidate is taking up the issue fearing backlash even as we are keen to ask questions from the candidates and check their party stand,” say residents of Kapoori village where the foundation stone of the controversial SYL canal was laid.

“The canal has spoiled camaraderie between Punjab and Haryana farmers and has been a bone of contention between various political parties eyeing Vidhan Sabha in the two states. However, during the Lok Sabha polls, suddenly no party or candidate rakes up the issue as their party’s stand is different in both states,” says Manakpur village resident Harwinder Singh. “Candidates are avoiding any assurance on SYL. All they do is come here and give a speech and vanish without answering us,” he added.

The canal, which now passes through various fields, is now defunct with dilapidated banks and wild growth. Hundreds of farmers, who were assured that they will get back their land in 2016, which had been acquired for the canal, are unable to till or sell the same as they have not received any related document from the state government in this regard.

In village Fatehpur Garhi, farmers allege that the canal is like a white elephant for them. “Leave aside any politics there is nothing on ground done for us. Just see this canal right in the middle of the village that is of no use. We will be happy if the Punjab Government allows some water to flow into Haryana. At least, we can irrigate our fields and save underground water-table during the paddy season,” says Jagjit Jagga. “However, we are waiting for candidates to come and say something on the matter,” he added.

While Haryana leaders want to dig the canal and ensure ample water for its fields, Punjab politicians are opposing it claiming that Punjab has no surplus water. “Everyone is playing politics over the matter for petty gains. When it suits the politicians, they come and hold rallies ahead of Vidhan Sabha polls. In these elections, none has turned up with a permanent solution to this issue. No one even wants to talk about it,” said a resident of Ghanaur, from where the canal enters Haryana.

Recently, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to intervene to get it completed and the issue was back in news after a gap of over 20 years when the Punjab Assembly had first passed the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, to avoid the completion of the canal in its territory. In 2016, the Punjab Cabinet decided to denotify 5,376 acre land and return it to its owners free of cost.

Signing of pact to denotification of acquired land

1981 The CMs of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan sign an agreement for the allocation of surplus Ravi-Beas waters in the presence of then PM Indira Gandhi.

April 8, 1982 The foundation stone of the controversial SYL canal, envisaged in 1976, laid by Indira Gandhi at Kapoori village in Patiala. The SAD launches a morcha against the SYL soon after the stone laying.

1984 The digging for the canal begins

July 24, 1985 The Rajiv-Longowal accord signed. With the formation of the government under the command of Surjit Singh Banala, the canal construction was expedited.

1990 Most of the digging completed. However, work had to be suspended — first owing to the killing of labourers and then due to the killing a chief engineer and a superintending engineer associated with the canal.

January 2002 The SC directs Punjab to complete the canal in a year.

July 2004 The Punjab Assembly unanimously passes the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, for which Presidential Reference was sent to the Supreme Court, which declared the Act invalid in 2016.

2016 The Punjab Assembly passes the Punjab Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal (Rehabilitation and Re-vesting the Property Rights) Bill, 2016, to return SYL land to farmers.

About The Author

The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

#Rajpura #Sutlej Yamuna Link canal SYL


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