The Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal (SYL) issue unearthed by the Punjab Congress unit as a poll plank has not only soured the Haryana-Punjab relations once again but has also kicked off a murky political battle. Punjab, Haryana and New Delhi politicians are busy mud-slinging in the name of SYL which has now sparked off tensions among the political parties and even the communities.
How the SYL canal issue cropped is also very interesting. Punjab Congress on March 6 gave an adjournment motion in the Assembly and demanded a debate on SYL canal issue. Two days later the leader of opposition Charanjit Singh Channi gave amendment motion on the issue and demanded that the land acquired by the government for canal be denotified.
Though the speaker did not allow the motion, the chief minister Parkash Singh Badal suddenly announced in his speech that the government will denotify the canal land and return it to the farmers.
Fund-starved Punjab government also issued a cheque amounting to Rs 191.75 crore to Haryana government, which was part of a payment which the neighbouring state had deposited as its contribution. Meanwhile, Punjab Assembly also passed Punjab Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal (Transfer of Property Rights) Bill, 2016 which is awaiting governor's nod.
Though the Supreme Court on March 17 put breaks on Punjab move and directed maintenance of a status quo on the land but it was too late as some farmers had already taken possession of the SYL land and even land records in Roopnagar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Patiala villages were changed overnight which now show the land owned by the farmers. The Punjab Police thrashed earth mover owners who were not keen to lend their machines for the illegal act.
"You would now put an end to the free run of the hoodlums who have felled thousands of trees, destroyed wildlife, flattened the structures and filled up the SYL Canal. Strict action be initiated against the officers and officials who were mute spectators and silent collaborators in this brazen display of utter lawlessness," Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar told Badal while returning the cheque. Going a step ahead, Punjab Assembly defied the apex court order and passed a resolution on the SYL canal saying that the canal cannot be built.
Whether Punjab will be able to stop the construction of the canal will be decided by the court, but the move has soured political relations between BJP and Akali Dal and the brotherhood between Punjab and Haryana.
"They (Punjab) have ended the relationship between the two states. We considered Punjab as our elder brother but they have betrayed us. The Bill passed in Punjab Assembly will trigger a fresh row between the two states," said leader of opposition in Haryana Abhay Singh Chautala, Badals. Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MLAs attempted to barge into the Punjab Assembly on March 17 protesting against the controversial Bill.
Haryana Assembly also condemned Punjab and termed its Bill as unilateral, unconstitutional and an act of defying the authority of Supreme Court.
"The issue of SYL is very clear. There was no need of it, there is no need of it even now and we will not let it built," Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said.
New Delhi also felt the heat of the controversy after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal backed Punjab on the issue. Kejriwal's statement left Haryana fuming which reminded him of the fact that his own state was getting water from Haryana whose project was opposed by him for political reasons.
Haryana's agriculture minister OP Dhankhad even advised Kejriwal to construct a separate canal in Delhi. Referring to Kejriwal's statement that there should be no politics on water and everyone should get water; former Punjab CM captain Amarinder Singh reminded Kejriwal that only a few days ago he had said in Punjab that he supported Punjab's case against SYL.
Punjab has been summoned by the apex court on March 28 to explain its position on the SYL Bill which was passed by state Assembly recently.
(Courtesy of Mail Today.)