Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal issue: Field of dreams

The windfall opportunity presented by Punjab Sutlej-Yamuna Link Land (Return of Property Rights) Bill 2016, may never become a reality but everyone along the canal already has a plan for it, fuelled by the prevailing high prices of land.

Updated: March 21, 2016 11:34 am

Ranjit Singh, of Sirsa Nangal village in Ropar district, is busy making plans for the crop that he would be sowing once land is “ready”. The eight-and-a-half acres that he is hoping to cultivate is the land the Punjab government acquired from him for construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal, and now wants to give back to him.

A driver by profession, Ranjit’s land was acquired in 1978 for Rs 8,000 per acre. The canal runs through the middle of his land dividing it in two halves. He hopes to fill the canal and start agriculture on the entire stretch. The huge mounds of mud are evidence that he has already set out to do this.

A total of 820 acres was acquired in Ropar, a Shiromani Akali Dal stronghold. Around 100 acres of this is in Sirsa Nangal village.

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The windfall opportunity presented by Punjab Sutlej-Yamuna Link Land (Return of Property Rights) Bill 2016, may never become a reality but everyone along the canal already has a plan, fuelled by the prevailing high prices of land.

Along both sides of the alignment, land prices range from Rs 10 lakh per acre to even Rs 1 crore per acre, depending on how close it is to the highway. Despite the order of the Supreme Court freezing all landfilling activity and maintain status quo at the canal, the people who stand to benefit hope that politics will trump legalities. (Read more)

Rs 35,000-cr loss, says Minister dhankar

With Punjab refusing to give Haryana its share of water, the state has suffered losses worth Rs 35,020 crore, says Haryana Irrigation Minister O P Dhankar.

SYL, SYL land, SYL canal, Satluj Yamuna Link canal, Sutlej Yamuna Link canal, SYL canal land, Punjab canal land, haryana canal land, haryana news, punjab news, india news“Haryana finished the canal in 1980. From Ravi and Beas, 3.5 MAF water was to be given. Of this, only 1.62 MAF is being received. If Punjab had completed the SYL then, 8 lakh tonne additional foodgrain would have been produced and Haryana farmers would have received Rs 1,000 crore per year. Haryana thus faced a loss of Rs 35,000 crore. Besides this, around Rs 20 crore has been spent on fighting cases in court,” said Dhankar.

Take cue from Punjab govt: Haryana farmers

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.

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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. (Read more)

What about us, ask those left out

Amid all the frenzied activity to fill the Sutlej Yamuna Link canal after the Punjab Assembly passed a Bill to return 3,928 acres of land acquired for project, there are also former owners of some 1000-odd acres who are feeling left out and neglected.

A total of 5,376 acres was acquired for the SYL project. While 3,928 acres were for the 122 km stretch of the main SYL canal that was to supply water, the remaining land was acquired to set up a network of minors and distributaries from the main canal to irrigate fields in areas currently falling in Ropar, SAS Nagar, Fatehagrh Sahib and Patiala districts.

Read — In parched Haryana villages, an endless wait for canal water

But the Punjab Sutlej-Yamuna Link Land (Return of Property Rights) Bill 2016 talks about four-fifths of the land acquired for the main canal, for which the compensation was paid by Haryana. There is no word on the remaining one-fifth acquired and paid for by Punjab. (Read more)

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Water War, So Far

Jan 29, 1955: Punjab, PEPSU, Rajasthan, Kashmir sign agreement for water utilisation of Ravi and Beas

Sept 19, 1960: India signs Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan and acquired water of Sutlej, Beas and Ravi for India

Nov 1, 1966: Haryana carved out of Punjab under Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.

Feb, 1971: Centre’s high-level panel recommends 3.782 MAF water to Haryana and 3.087 MAF to Punjab

March 24, 1976: Centre issues notification for allocating surplus Ravi- Beas waters to Punjab, Haryana with Haryana suggesting SYL canal be constructed.

1976: Haryana started construction on its portion of SYL canal

June 1980: Haryana’s part of SYL canal completed Dec 31, 1981: River water-sharing treaty signed by Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan. It was agreed that Punjab would construct the SYL in its state within two years.

April 8, 1982: Then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi dug the ground for starting SYL canal at Kapoori village

July 24, 1985 : ‘Settlement Accord’ between Rajiv Gandhi, then Akali Dal president Sant Harchand Singh Longowal to complete canal by August 15, 1986

Nov 5, 1985 : Punjab Assembly passes a resolution repudiating December, 1981 water sharing Treaty

Jan 30, 1987 : Water Tribunal orders Punjab to complete canal construction expeditiously

July 1990 : Punjab completely stops construction of canal , that was 90 per cent complete

Feb 20, 1991 : Prime Minister directed Border Roads Organisation should complete canal on emergency footing

March 12, 1994 : Agreement signed for sharing water of Yamuna river between Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh

July 1995 : Punjab issues white paper taking stand not to proceed with construction and Haryana should be given water from Bhakra Canal System

Jan 15, 2002: Supreme Court directs Punjab to complete canal in a year

March 2002: Supreme Court dismisses Punjab’s review petition

2003: Punjab files another petition in Supreme Court seeking discharge from responsibility of SYL canal construction

June 4, 2004: Supreme Court directs Centre to undertake canal’ construction under high-powered committee supervision

July 12, 2004 : Punjab Assembly unilaterally passes Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004

February 28, 2005: Supreme Court starts hearings on Presidential reference on Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004

March 14, 2016 : Punjab Assembly unanimously passes Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal Land (Transfer of Property Rights) Bill, 2016 to return 3,928 acres of acquired land

March 16, 2016: The Supreme Court orders Punjab to maintain status quo on the Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal