Haryana, Punjab row over SYL canal escalates


Chandigarh, March 15: The festering row over sharing of the Ravi-Beas waters escalated today with Punjab Assembly today passing a bill against construction of contentious Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, sparking an immediate adoption of a resolution by Haryana Assembly condemning the other state’s move as “unconstitutional”.

As the two neighbouring states ruled by the NDA were locked in a bitter confrontation and passed the measures unanimously, the Centre told the Supreme Court it was not taking sides over the sharing of water through SYL Canal which has been under dispute for over five decades. The  canal was to carry Haryana’s share of Ravi-Beas waters.

In an attempt to prevent its neighbouring states from getting share from Punjab’s river waters, the state assembly unanimously passed a bill against the construction of SYL canal, providing transfer of proprietary rights back to the land owners free of cost.

Leader of House and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal moved the ‘Punjab Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal land (transfer of proprietary right) Bill’ with the objective “to provide for transfer of proprietary rights to the land owners from whom the land was acquired by the state government for the construction of SYL.”

Moving the Bill, Badal said “the Bill had been taken on priority basis as Punjab had no surplus waters to share it with other states.”

He said that a water crisis existed in Punjab and “if a drop of water flow to other states from rivers of Punjab it will be very dangerous for the state.”

“The SYL will never be constructed,” Badal observed, adding that “the government will not take money back from the farmers whose land was acquired rather their land will be returned back to them free of cost.”

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Badal said around 3,928 acres of land, acquired in the past for the construction of SYL, will be given back to farmers free of cost.

The Bill concerning the vexed issue of construction of SYL canal through which Punjab’s rivers waters had to flow to Haryana was adopted by the assembly in 15 minutes. Leader of Opposition Charanjit Singh Channi backed the Bill on behalf of his Congress party.

Within hours of the bill’s passage by Punjab Assembly, Haryana Assembly unanimously passed a resolution condemned it as “unilateral, unconstitutional and denying the authority of the Supreme Court, a step only to draw political mileage.”

The legislatures of the two states are housed in the same complex here.

The resolution moved by Agriculture Minister O P Dhankar requested the Union Government to annul this illegal and unconstitutional action.

Chief Minister M L Khattar said the action by Punjab was a step only to draw political mileage and urged the Centre to annul the “illegal and unconstitutional action”.

The resolution said that Haryana is a water deficit State and the availability of water is 61 per cent less than the total requirement.


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