CHANDIGARH: A day after the Punjab Assembly voted to stop construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal, the farmers of the border state are rejoicing and hoping to get their land back, which was acquired for the project decades ago. At the heart of the river water-sharing controversy is the proposed 122-km canal which would link the Sutlej and the Yamuna basin. Punjab is against sharing water with Haryana because most of the population in the border state are engaged in farming.
The project has a history of bloodshed and kept the farmers of Punjab rued as they did not want to give their lands away for the project. Interestingly, it was the SAD government under Parkash Singh Badal that notified acquisition of land for the project in 1978. The controversy around the project heated up so much in 1990 that the officials working for it were killed by the Babbar Khasla militants. Later in 2004, the Punjab Assembly enacted the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act that annulled all inter-state agreements of sharing river water. Following which a presidential reference was sought.
The SYL Canal dispute was back in the news early this month after Haryana sought an early hearing in the apex court on the presidential reference. The issue escalated after the Punjab Assembly passed The Punjab Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal (Rehabilitation and Re-vesting of Propriety Rights) Bill, 2016 last week, following which some farmers had started levelling the land acquired for the project.
Patiala resident Gurjit Singh Rana said, “This is historical step taken by the state. We can now grow crops on the land.”
“As much as 11 acres of my family’s land was acquired for the project and we hardly got any compensation for it. ,’’ Piyara Singh of Ropar said.
- Feb 20, 1978: Notification issued for the acquisition of land
- April 8, 1982: Foundation stone laid at Kapoori
- July 24, 1985: Punjab Accord is signed and tribunal set up to look into river water issue
- July 23, 1990: Officials working for the project are killed by Babbar Khalsa militants
- July 12, 2004: Punjab annuls all inter-state agreements signed by the state
- March 14, 2016: Punjab SYL Canal Land (Transfer of Proprietary Rights), Bill passed
- March 17, 2016: SC ordered to maintain status quo on land
- March 18, 2016: Resolution to stop construction passed