In Punjab, all queries on getting land back

“The way the Chief Minister (Parkash Singh Badal) has taken a stand on the issue, we are very hopeful that we will get the land back,” said Gurmukh Singh, whose family gave 1.5 acre for the canal project.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chunni | Updated: March 21, 2016 4:02 am
SYL canal row, JCB, SYL land, parkash singh badal, cnaal project, india news, nation news Canal filling work has stopped in Chunni, Punjab. Express Photo

It has been two days since JCB earthmovers filling the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal land in Medoodian village fell silent. But the talk in the village still centres around return of the SYL land.

“The way the Chief Minister (Parkash Singh Badal) has taken a stand on the issue, we are very hopeful that we will get the land back,” said Gurmukh Singh, whose family gave 1.5 acre for the canal project.

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Wednesday and Thursday had seen hectic activity in the village, with JCB earthmovers brought in by Shiroman Akali Dal politicians dumping earth into the dry canal. On Friday, all activities were halted after the Supreme Court’s order.

“When the JCB machines started filling the land, we were happy that we will get our land back. But then I saw on TV that Supreme Court had issued an order due to which filling work was stopped. That came as a shock. (But) Supreme Court orders have to be followed,” said Gurmukh, who was in Class VI when work had begun.

“We hoped that we will get our land back….Thick vegetation has come up…(and) neelgais destroy our crops” he said.

But not everyone is convinced about Badal’s stand in the Assembly. Some described the land-filling exercise as a mere “political stunt”.

Only a few houses away from Gurmukh Singh’s, a 60-year-old dismissed the promise of returning farmers’ land: “The canal remained controversial and will remain controversial forever. Neither will water flow into it nor will the land would be returned. I would like to get the land back, but I know what is happening is merely politics and lip service.” He didn’t want to give his name to “avoid trouble”.

Another farmer, whose family parted with three acres, said, “Politicians led this whole drama. It is not easy to fill a 42-foot-deep canal…there are animals, huge trees and snakes.”

At nearby Chunni village in Fatehgarh Sahib — the site of frenzied land-filling activity till Thursday, all seemed quiet. Policemen made surveillance rounds, while a team of forest officials assessed the damage to the trees. Hundreds of trees were uprooted or axed during the illegal land-filling, and tractor-loads of tree trunks ferried away.

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