Will not let SYL canal become reality, says Sukhbir Badal

Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Saturday appealed to Punjabis not to allow any central team wanting to conduct a survey for SYL canal land to enter the state.

Addressing a gathering here, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief also announced that the party will not allow a drop of water to be shared with Haryana.

The Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal was conceptualised for effective allocation of water from the Ravi and the Beas rivers. The project envisages a 214-kilometre canal, of which a 122-kilometre stretch is to be constructed in Punjab and the remaining 92 kilometres in Haryana.

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

Badal said, “Be it any direction of the apex court or even the dispatch of the Army by the prime minister to facilitate the transfer of water to Haryana, we will not let it become a reality.”

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

Badal also announced that the Shiromani Akali Dal will “gherao” Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s official residence on October 10, adding that senior party leaders, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee members and Youth Akali Dal volunteers will take part in the protest.

A Shiromani Akali Dal statement quoting Badal said the party leadership will gather at its office and then march to the chief minister’s residence.

The party will “gherao” Mann’s residence as he is the “biggest culprit vis-à-vis selling off Punjab’s interests on the SYL”, it said.

“The AAP government deliberately capitulated in the apex court during hearing on the SYL canal case by expressing its willingness to construct the canal …,” he said.

“Chief minister Bhagwant Mann took this stand to satisfy his boss Arvind Kejriwal, who is keen to release Punjab river water to Haryana and Rajasthan to win support for his party in the forthcoming elections in the two states,” Badal claimed.

Stating that land meant for the canal had been returned to farmers by former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in 2016, the Shiromani Akali Dal chief said, “As of now there is no canal. Also Punjab does not have any water to spare. So there is no question of releasing any water to Haryana.”

Meanwhile, the Congress’ Punjab unit chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring said the state will be adversely affected if a decision regarding the SYL canal goes against it.

“If we are asked to share any more water, we will be killing the farmers of our state with our own hands, thus killing Punjab as well,” Warring said in a statement in Chandigarh.

The Congress leader urged all political parties in the state to come together on the issue and demanded the BJP-led central government look at the issue sympathetically.

Cautioning the state and central governments, Warring claimed that both will be responsible for “signing the death warrant of Punjab if an adequate solution is not found soon”.

“The situation would have been resolved in 2017 itself by the BJP-led central government but the Centre decided to run away from the situation and later filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court conveying its inability to resolve the issue and demanded the court’s intervention,” he said.

“The people need to understand the situation … We are already giving away 70 per cent of our water to neighbouring states, how can we share additional water? When we do not have any water to spare, there is no need for constructing the canal at all,” he said.

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