SYL canal issue: Police use water cannon against Punjab Congress workers marching towards Raj Bhavan

Police on Monday used a water cannon to disperse Congress workers marching towards the Punjab Raj Bhavan here over the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue.

The Punjab Congress said it wanted to meet Governor Banwarilal Purohit and give him a representation over the SYL issue.

Several Congress leaders including the party’s state unit chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Partap Singh Bajwa, MLA Rana Gurjeet Singh, former minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, former Punjab assembly speaker Rana KP Singh and other leaders were present.

Police had raised barricades to prevent protesters from moving towards the residence of the governor. When the Congress workers tried to force their way through barricades, they used a water cannon to stop them.

Later, police detained Congress leaders and workers.

Addressing Congress leaders and workers outside the party headquarters here, Bajwa said they will not allow a single drop of water from Punjab to flow to any other state and that they will also not allow the canal to be built.

He said Punjab has no surplus water to share with any other state.

The Congress leaders also targeted the Bhagwant Mann government, alleging that the Punjab government had failed to safeguard the interests of the state over the SYL issue.

On Sunday, Punjab Chief Minister Mann challenged the BJP, Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal for an open debate on issues pertaining to the state on November 1, amid opposition parties’ criticism over the issue of SYL canal.

The Punjab BJP had on Saturday held a protest, accusing the AAP government of failing to safeguard the state’s interest on river water.

The state government in the apex court stated that the government was ready to build the canal but the opposition parties and farmers were opposing it, Punjab BJP chief Sunil Jakhar claimed on Saturday.

On October 4, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to survey the portion of land in Punjab which was allocated for the construction of part of the SYL canal in the state and make an estimate of the extent of construction carried out there.

The SYL canal was conceptualised for effective allocation of water from the Ravi and Beas rivers. The project envisaged a 214-km canal, of which a 122-km stretch was to be constructed in Punjab and the remaining 92 km in Haryana.

Haryana has completed the project in its territory but Punjab, which launched the construction work in 1982, shelved it subsequently.

The SYL has been a bone of contention between Punjab and Haryana for the past several years.

Punjab has been maintaining that the quantum of water flowing through Ravi and Beas rivers had come down considerably, and therefore, it was seeking reassessment of the water’s volume.

Haryana has been seeking completion of the canal to get its share of 3.5 million acre feet of the water, and also that Punjab should comply with the 2002 and 2004 Supreme Court orders for the completion of the canal.  

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