The Punjab government hardened its stance on the contentious Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue, with the state cabinet on Tuesday deciding to return the entire amount paid by Haryana for land for the canal project.
Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia said the Chief Minister was “very keen” to send “a cheque for about Rs 390 crore to Haryana on Tuesday itself”. BJP minister Madan Mohan Mittal, after attending the meeting, too echoed similar views. “The cheque is being sent to Haryana today itself,” he said. “In furtherance to the bill passed by the assembly on returning the SYL canal land to its owners, the money has to be returned to Haryana. We are only doing that. We are fulfilling our duty. We have no enmity with Haryana. The only thing here is that we want to safeguard the interests of Punjab and Punjabis,” Mittal told The Indian Express after the cabinet meeting.
“There may be some technicalities but it will be surely sent to Haryana at the earliest,” Majithia said. On further course of action in the likelihood of Haryana refusing to accept the cheque, Majithia said, “It relates to the future. Our stand, both on SYL canal issue and returning the money to Haryana, is very clear.”
It is highly unlikely, if not impossible altogether, that Haryana would accept the cheque.
Cong, BJP spar
A war of words ensued between the ruling SAD and opposition Congress after members of the Punjab assembly met Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki on the SYL issue on tuesday. It began when Leader of Opposition Charanjit Singh Channi alleged that the chief minister did not produce the file pertaining to SYL bill before the Governor, and accused Badal of “committing fraud with the people [of Punjab]”.
Majithia hit back at the Congress saying that party was “bereft of any agenda and was hence saying such things”. “It is a bill passed by the assembly. Where will it go? It will definitely reach the Governor as per the procedure,” Majithia said. The Punjab assembly had on Monday unanimously passed Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal Land (Transfer of Proprietary Rights) Bill, 2016, proposing to return nearly 3,928 acres of land acquired for the SYL canal to the original owners. As per the bill, the land is proposed to be returned free of cost.