After the canal being hurriedly filled up in Punjab, villagers whose land was acquired for building the Sutlej Yamuna Canal Link in Haryana have started demanding that the state government should follow suit.
Even as the Haryana government is stating that all possible steps would be taken to get its share of water, the high price of the land is an enticing offer for the landowners.
Haryana constructed its entire 90 km stretch of the SYL years ago, in 1976. Starting at Ambala district, it goes up to Munak in Karnal district passing through Kurukshetra.
Though not a drop of the Ravi and Beas waters has reached Haryana, the SYL transports excess water from Bhakra Canal from Naggal in Ambala. The SYL is also used for draining rainwater.
Harbans Lal, a resident of Naggal village, says his family had shifted to Haryana from Pakistan during the Partition. “We were to get two acres of land then. Instead, one acre of better quality land was allotted. This land was acquired for the SYL project. I do not even remember how much money was given. If the government returns the land, we will welcome it,” says Lal, who has retired from Haryana Police and is now cultivating land on contract.
There are several persons in the village whose land was acquired for the SYL project and who now hope that it will be returned to them.
A little ahead of Naggal is Segti village. The nambardar of the village, Krishan Lal, recalls how land was acquired in phases from them. Around 30 acres of land belonging to him was acquired in late 1970s.
“The land would now cost several lakhs. I have seen the SYL canal getting constructed before my eyes. The water was never meant for Ambala residents. It was to be sent forward. However, with the Punjab government creating hindrances from the beginning, this was never possible. With the recent developments, it now seems a remote possibility. Crores were spent on setting up the infrastructure, which is lying defunct now. The Haryana government should now seriously consider returning our land to us,” he said.