Punjab assembly unites to block SYL Canal

The Punjab Assembly today unanimously passed a resolution stating that the disputed Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal would not be allowed to be constructed at any cost.

"The house has passed a resolution this morning in which all the political parties of the state have unanimously resolved that circumstances being what they are, the SYL Canal cannot be built. They cannot allow it to be built in defiance of the rights of the state over its river waters," Harcharan Singh Bains, Advisor to the Punjab Chief Minister, said.

"The case before the Supreme Court (challenging government of India's power to distribute water between the states) must be decided before SYL canal can even be talked about," he added.

In a setback to Punjab, the apex court had on Thursday directed maintenance of status quo on land meant for the canal after Haryana alleged that attempts have been made to alter its use by levelling it.

The apex court in its interim order also appointed the union home secretary, Punjab's chief secretary, and the director-general of police (DGP) as the 'joint receivers' of land and other property meant for the canal till the next date of hearing on 31 March 2016.

Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had on Thursday said that the state has no water to share, adding that the water crisis has occurred because the Riparian Act was not followed in the case of Punjab.

Badal's comment came a day after the government of Haryana returned a cheque for Rs191.75 crore to the Punjab government following its refusal to accept poll-bound Punjab's push to pass a bill to return the land acquired for the SYL Canal.

In an attempt to prevent its neighbouring states from getting a share from Punjab's river waters, the state assembly unanimously passed a bill against the construction of the SYL canal, providing transfer of proprietary rights back to the land owners free of cost.