SYL: Supreme Court hearing on November 21, Punjab government rushes to return acquired land

The work is almost completed in Ropar district while it will take a day or two in Patiala and Mohali, revenue officials in these districts said.

Written by Jagdeep Singh Deep | Ropar | Updated: November 19, 2016 5:54 am
Satluj Yamuna Link, Supreme Court, SAD BJP, news, latest news, India news, national news One of staff member of `Fard Kendra’ searching for old land record which were acquired for SYL at Rupnagar (Ropar) in Punjab after Punjab govt. ordered, November 18 2016. (Express photo by Jaipal Singh)

Taking forward the resolution passed by the ruling SAD-BJP in the Vidhan Sabha earlier this week that the land acquired for the Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal would be returned to farmers immediately despite the recent adverse Supreme Court order, revenue officials are working to change mutation records of the acquired land at breakneck speed in the four districts through which the project was planned. In Ropar and Patiala, revenue officials spent the entire night tracing old land records and other related documents. The work is almost completed in Ropar district while it will take a day or two in Patiala and Mohali, revenue officials in these districts said.

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Copies of the mutations will be supplied to the land owners in the next two to three days following which they can take the possession of their land, said the officials. However, unlike in March this year when farmers were goaded by the SAD leadership to fill the canal and take over the land, Akalis cadres are keeping out of direct involvement in the process.

But the top Akali leadership is keeping a close watch and is keen to have the entire SYL land transferred to farmers before November 21, the date of hearing fixed by Supreme Court after Haryana demanded an urgent hearing while objecting to developments in Punjab to stop the construction of the canal.

“The exercise would be complete well ahead of November 21. There will be no land earlier earmarked for SYL. Even if there is intervention from any quarters to press for the canal project, it will require acquiring land afresh for the project and by exploring the new route. In a nutshell, the issue has come to an end,” said an Akali leader.

More than 5,300 acres of land was acquired for the project from about 4,900 farmers.The mutations are being done at the Fard Kendras situated inside the Sewa Kendras in the districts. Farmers are thronging to the Sewa Kendras to find out the status of their mutations. Ropar district has the maximum area under the SYL canal project, with 55 kms passing through it. A total of 1,250 acres of land was acquired from 2925 farmers in the district. Most of the land was under forests when acquired.

One complication that revenue officials said they were facing and which could be a challenge is that many of the original owners are no more and the number of claimants to each land would have increased according to the number of descendants. Speaking to The Indian Express, Ropar Deputy Commissioner (DC) Karnesh Sharma said they started the work after orders from the government.

The employees of a Fard Kendra in Ropar said they spent the entire night in verifying and compiling the land records.The officials said they had done 38 mutations on Friday. Teja Singh, who was among the first farmers whose mutation process was completed, was present at the Fard Kendra. He said his 8.5 acres of land was acquired in 1982 against a compensation of Rs 17,000 per acre.

Asked when he would take the possession, Teja Singh said he would apply for copies of mutation and then take the possession of their land. Many farmers were unaware that the mutation process was underway. Jasbir Singh, a resident of Khrota village, whose mutation was also done on Friday, was busy in his fields and did not know that his 10 acres acquired for the SYL canal had been transferred back to him officially. He said he would go to Ropar and apply for the copy of mutation on Monday.

“I will start filling the land after taking the possession,” said Jasbir Singh.

Didar Singh, another farmer from Himmatpur village, was also not aware about his mutation. He said though the land was not much, he would take possession but not before getting the copy and other documents as the matter was still in the SC. SAD district president of Ropar, Paramjeet Singh Makkar, said they had not got any instructions from the party to help the farmers in taking the possession of land.

The Mohali district administration has also completed the mutation work for the land. A total of 699 acres was acquired in the district for SYL canal. The Naib Tehsildar of Kharar tehsil, Satwinderpal Singh Ranike, said they had almost completed the process of mutation. He said there were a total of 1,231 persons whose land was acquired. He said they would hand over the copies to the farmers soon.

In Patiala, as many as 25 mutations were done by the revenue department on Friday. The Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Rajpura, Harpreet Singh Suddan, said the process of mutation was almost complete and total 25 mutations were done on Friday in Rajpura and Ghanaur Sub-Divisions. He said around 1,508 acres of land acquired for the canal fell in Rajpura and Ghnaur sub-divisions. The SDM also said 17 mutations were done in Rajpura sub-division and 8 in Ghanaur.

According to Fatehgarh Sahib District Revenue Officer Kiranjit Singh Tiwana, nearly 70 per cent of the entries in mutations were complete as per the records available in the district. He said more details had been sought from land acquisition officials concerned with the project as Fatehgarh Sahib earlier used to be part of Patiala district. (with inputs from Navjeevan Gopal)