Haryana allocates Rs 100 crore for SYL construction

Chandigarh, March 6 (IANS) Amid a major row with neighbouring Punjab over river water sharing through the SYL canal, the Haryana government on Monday allocated Rs 100 crore in its 2017-18 budget for the construction of the controversial canal.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar told media here on Monday that as the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal has to be constructed, an allocation of Rs 100 crore has been made in the Haryana budget for this.

Haryana Finance Minister Abhimanyu, who presented the state’s budget on Monday, had also said that if more funds needed for the construction of the SYL canal, Rs 1,000 crore more would also be given for the same.

The SYL canal has been a bone of contention between both states for over three decades. Punjab maintains that it has no water to spare for other states.

The Supreme Court, in its verdict on the contentious SYL issue, had in November last year ordered that the SYL canal should be constructed.

The Punjab government openly announced that it will not allow construction of the canal and stated that it had no water to spare.

A special session of the Punjab assembly was convened in November, following the Supreme Court ruling, in which the assembly issued directions to the Punjab government and its officers “not to allow construction of the SYL canal and to recover money from other states for supply of water”.

The assembly issued directions to the Punjab government, cabinet and entire government officers and officials “neither to hand over any land of the state to any agency for the construction of Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal nor allow anyone to work on this project and give any sort of cooperation for this purpose in the larger public interest”. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had moved the resolution.

“House takes notice of this fact that Punjab needs 56 MAF (million acre feet) of water for agriculture, out of which river waters amount to only 27 per cent of its and that the Central Ground Water Commission had already declared 105 out of 138 blocks as over-exploited. Without requisite waters, Punjab which is the grain bowl of India is continuously becoming barren and resultantly posing a threat to national food security and state economy.The House takes a serious view of the fact that Punjab is already falling short of its canal water needs and farmers of Punjab are facing serious water crisis,” the resolution noted.

The Supreme Court ruling came on a Presidential reference to the controversial ‘Punjab Termination of Water Agreements Bill’ passed by the Punjab assembly in 2004, abrogating the water sharing agreements with other states. The court held the law as “unconstitutional”.

The Punjab government even ordered de-notification of nearly 5,000 acres of land acquired for the SYL canal nearly four decades ago and handed back the land to farmers from whom it was acquired.

–IANS

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