Fill it, Shut it, Forget it?


Sowing a storm Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal meets farmers in Wadala Johal near Amritsar

The Bill introduced in Punjab Vidhan Sabha (a copy with Tehelka) says that the state government will subsequently notify the terms and conditions for transfer of land which will stand amended and automatically modified by the revenue authorities concerned. The Bill goes on to state that suitable
machinery will also be notified by the state government to set all claims of landowners. It says that no suit, prosecution and all other legal proceedings can be instituted against the Punjab government or any person for anything done in good faith. No civil court will have jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceedings in respect of any matter arising with regard to the Bill.
The immediate fallout of the Bill to return 3,928 acres land to farmers was the frenzied activity to fill the SYL. Records reveal that a total of 5,376 acre land was acquired for the SYL, out of which 3,928 acres land was for the 121-km-long SYL and the rest to set up a network of distributaries from the canal to fields in different areas. The Bill has created a piquant situation for these farmers whose land was acquired for distributaries from the SYL to fields falling in districts of Ropar, SAS Nagar, Fatehagrh Sahib and Patiala in Punjab because the Punjab Sutlej-Yamuna Link Land (Return of Property Rights) Bill, 2016 mentions only about the land for which compensation had been by Haryana Government and there is no mention of the remaining one-fifth acquired and paid for by Punjab.
Cash-strapped Punjab was quick to despatch a cheque of Rs 191 crore to Haryana in lieu of that. The cheque bearing No. 997640 and is signed by Treasury Officer of Punjab Government. In the meanwhile, after Punjab farmers filled the canal portion in the State, the farmers in Haryana villages whose land was acquired for the SYL have begun demanding that peasantry in the State must follow suit. The reason could be either greed for free land on the lines of Punjab where land prices have sky rocketed or having lost all hopes of waters ever flowing to Haryana.
For the record, Haryana had completed its entire 90-km stretch of the SYL way back in 1976. The SYL portion in Haryana beginning Ambala goes up to Munak in Karnal district, the home district of chief minister, Manohar Lal. The canal then passes through Kurukshetra. The completed portion of SYL in Haryana currently allows only the rainwater.
Left with no options, the Haryana Assembly passed a resolution against Punjab SYL Bill and pleaded before the Supreme Court to stop Punjab from returning the acquired land for the SYL canal. The Punjab government has been asked to respond by March 28 to Haryana’s Government’s application demanding ad-interim protection by appointing a court receiver and restraining publication of assent to Punjab’s Bill in the gazette notification. Hearing has been fixed for this case on 31 March 2016.
A day after Haryana threatened to disrupt water supply to the national capital following Delhi Chief
Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s support to Punjab over the SYL canal, the Delhi CM attempted damage control by saying that it was not right to do politics over water. “Residents of Haryana and Punjab are all our people. Everyone should get water,” he said on Friday.
However, amid severe criticism from several quarters over his statement on SYL, the Delhi
government started a massive online campaign under AAPWaterRevolution to project that the
capital’s water supply was a prime concern for the government and major initiatives had been taken to
improve services over the past one year.

Haryana has suffered losses totalling over 35,000 crore. We finished the canal work in 1980. If Punjab had completed the SYL then, 8 lakh tonne additional food grain would have been produced and Haryana farmers would have received 1,000 crore per year or a total of 35,000 crore by now. In addition around 20 crore has been spent on fighting cases in courts.

OP Dhankar,  Irrigation Minister, Haryana

Badal is playing a double game by first getting the Bill passed in Vidhan Sabha and then not sending it to the Governor immediately for his assent, thus providing crucial time to Haryana to react and approach the Supreme Court which ordered status quo.

Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Congress Chief

Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal had committed a fraud with the people in the name of adopting Bill to denotify the SYL as his intention was exposed when he failed to get the Bill signed by the Governor
Kaptan Singh Solanki.

Charanjit Singh Channi, Punjab CLP Leader

I am against the construction of SYL as Punjab does not have enough water to share with other states.

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi CM & convenor, Aam Aadmi Party

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) would try to project itself as a party of martyrs over the issue of the SYL
canal and necessitate early polls by resigning from the government.

Sucha Singh Chhotepur, Punjab Convener Aam Aadmi Party

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and state Congress President Capt Amarinder Singh are
telling lies over the issue of SYL canal.

Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Spokesman Aam Aadmi Party