Upping the ante on the Sutlej- Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue, the Punjab cabinet on Tuesday announced that it will denotify the land acquired for the project and return it to the “original owners” at no cost.
The move came on the eve of the special session of the Punjab Assembly convened to discuss the issue in the wake of the Supreme Court holding as “unconstitutional” the 2004 law passed by the state government to terminate the SYL canal water sharing agreement with neighbouring states.
“The Punjab Council of Ministers on Tuesday decided in public interest that the land acquired for the SYL canal project, at present vested in the Punjab government, free from all encumbrances, stands denotified with immediate effect and shall forthwith vest in the original land owners of their lineal descendants/legal representatives free of cost,” advisor to chief minister on national affairs and media Harcharan Bains said.
He said the decision “comes into effect immediately and necessary orders are being issued”.
Talking to news persons after the meeting, Cabinet Minister Daljit Singh Cheema said the cabinet was “competent” to take the decision.
“The water table is declining in Punjab. Neither we have water nor the SYL canal can be constructed. Therefore, the land acquired from farmers for the project should be returned to them. A decision has been taken by the state cabinet to denotify that land,” Cheema said.
Punjab Congress to meet Prez
A delegation of Punjab Congress led by its chief Captain Amarinder Singh will meet President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi on Thursday to seek his intervention to resolve the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue.
The party leadership, which has demanded that the President ignore the Supreme Court ruling on his reference on the SYL canal case in Punjab’s interest, will submit a detailed memorandum at the meeting, a party spokesman said. The apex court ignored several key aspects of the SYL issue because of “inadequate” information shared by the Badal government, he said. The party will appeal to the President to intervene in the matter.
The delegation will draw his attention toward the “serious consequences” of the implementation of the apex court’s order, the spokesman said. The state is already reeling under acute water shortage, The water table is declining continuously. The state will be plunged into an unprecedented chaos and crisis if the President accepts the court’s verdict and allows its implementation, he said.
The people of the state, especially the farmers in the Malwa belt, will be the worst affected by it.