THE PUNJAB Assembly Monday unanimously passed the contentious Punjab Satluj Yamuna Link Canal Land (Transfer of Proprietary Rights) Bill, 2016, proposing to re-vest property rights to the owners of nearly 3,928 acres of land acquired to construct the SYL canal.
The bill was moved by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal who sought to address the concerns of the farmers by stating that no money should be recovered from the farmers upon returning the land acquired for SYL. The government’s alliance partner BJP supported the ruling on the issue.
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The bill that was tabled after the question hour triggered a war for credit between the legislators of treasury and Opposition benches.
Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Charanjit Singh Channi said the Congress was with the BJP-SAD combine on the passage of the bill. But he sought to read the party’s notice for motion of adjournment on the issue, stating it was the Congress that suggested re-vesting of property rights.
Channi was, however, not allowed to read the notice for the motion with Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal stating the notuce stands rejected as the Chief Minister, who is the leader of the House, had sought to bring in a resolution on the same issue. This led to protests on the floor of the House with Congress member Jagmohan Singh Kang sitting on a dharna in the well of the House.
The bill was passed amid this commotion.
Later, Channi sought a clarification on whether the bill was recorded to be passed unanimously, to which the Speaker clarified in affirmative.
While moving the bill, the CM said they had brought in a resolution in the House considering the gravity of the issue. He added they had convened a special cabinet meeting to clear the bill so that it could be tabled in the Assembly.
“Punjab is facing water crisis already. It cannot afford to give away a drop of water as our underground table would fall further. About 3,928 acres of land is under SYL. It should be given back to the farmers and they should not be asked to return the money,” he said.
The CLP leader, recalling the Termination of Punjab’s Termination of River Waters Act, 2004, reminded the House that it was former CM Capt Amarinder Singh who had brought that bill while caring little about his chair. “Even today it is the Opposition that is prompting the government to bring in the bill,” said Channi.
Responding to Channi, Badal appealed to the Opposition to help in the passage of the bill, “When Amarinder Singh had given us a call then, we did not argue with him. We should be together on this issue now.”