CM Mann Says Congress Leaders Sang Paeans in Favor of SYL Through White Paper in Punjab Vidhan Sabha
CM Mann Accuses Congress of Betraying Punjab on SYL Issue
Badal and Barnala enthusiastically conceived and zealously executed the SYL project, with political leaders from across party lines colluding in this sinister move against the state.
Ludhiana, November 1:
The Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann today said that the Congress leaders shamelessly sang paeans in favor of Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal through white paper brought on the floor of Punjab Vidhan Sabha in early 1980s.
Addressing the gathering during the ‘Main Punjab Bolda Haan’ debate organized here today, the Chief Minister said that SYL is a saga of treachery, betrayal and sin against Punjab and Punjabis by its own leadership. He said that while a single act “Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956” is applicable throughout India for resolving water disputes among States but, Punjab is the only State where a separate arrangement has been made for the distribution of water between Punjab & Haryana. , in the “Punjab Reorganization Act, 1966”. Hence, Bhagwant Singh Mann said that the Union Government has always discriminated against Punjab but the leaders of Punjab brought white paper to justify this treacherous move which is shameful.
The Chief Minister further said that as per the Punjab Reorganization Act, 1966, all the assets were divided between Punjab and Haryana in the ratio of 60:40 but the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi vide a notification dated March 24, 1976, divided the Ravi-Beas waters between Punjab & Haryana in the ratio of 50:50 in a forcible manner, which was against the interests of Punjab. He said that the then Chief Minister of state Giani Zail Singh ignored the interests of Punjab and acted as a puppet of the Union Government. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that not only this, but on November 16, 1976 he also received a check of Rs. 1 crore and accelerated the construction of SYL.
The Chief Minister further said that after assuming the charge of the state in 1977 Parkash Singh Badal did not even once stop the work of giving water to Haryana through SYL. Rather, he said that Badal vide letter no. 23617 Dated July 04, 1978 demanded another Rs. 3 crore for the construction of SYL adding that on March 31, 1979, the then Akali Dal Government received Rs. 1.5 crore from the Government of Haryana for constructing SYL canal.
The Chief Minister said that Badal acquired the requisite land for constructing SYL Canal, in a very short period by imposing emergency clauses. He said that the complicity of Akali Dal with the Government of Haryana is also clear from the fact that in the Vidhan Sabha session (held from March 1, 1978 to March 7, 1978), the then Chief Minister of Haryana Chaudhary Devi Lal said that “Due to my personal relationship with Badal, Punjab Government has acquired the land under Section 4 and Section 17 (emergency clause) for SYL canal and Punjab Government is trying its best for this work.” Bhagwant Singh Mann said that this reflected the connivance of these leaders to deprive the state of its waters.
The Chief Minister said that the story does not end here as in 1998 when Parkash Singh Badal again became the Chief Minister, he raised the height of banks of Bhakra Main Line Canal by an average of one feet with the intention of giving more water to Haryana and took Rs. 45 crores too from Haryana for this purpose. He said that Badal did this sin only for the sake of constructing ‘Balasar canal’ which was constructed till his farm house by Haryana as a reward for his treachery with the state. So, Bhagwant Singh Mann said that in this way, the Badal gave water to Haryana for its own interests and Haryana rewarded him by constructing a canal to their farm.
The Chief Minister said that it is evident from this, that the then Akali Government was betraying the interests of the people of Punjab as personal interests were preferred over those of the public. He said that agreement of December 31, 1981 pertaining to the division of waters was signed between Chief Minister Darbara Singh, Chief Minister Haryana and Chief Minister Rajasthan in the presence of Mrs. Indira Gandhi as the Congress party was in power in the Center as well as the three states. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that the then Chief Minister of the Congress ignored the interests of Punjab, to follow unjustified dictates of the Union Government.
The Chief Minister said that as per this agreement, the 75 percent water of Ravi-Beas was given to the non-riparian states ie Haryana and Rajasthan adding that despite stiff opposition by the farmers Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Captain Amarinder Singh performed the groundbreaking ceremony of SYL in presence of Chaudhary Balram Jakhar with fanfare on April 08, 1982. He said that even during the President’s Rule, the Shiromani Akali Dal signed the Rajiv-Longowal accord between Mr. Rajiv Gandhi and Akali leader Sant Harchand Singh Longowal on July 24, 1985. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that this also played an important role in furthering the construction of SYL Canal.
The Chief Minister said that through the act the Akali Dal ensured that Punjab does not get its right over river waters in future. He said that former Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala not only ensured the pending construction of SYL during his tenure (1985 to 1987) but made sure that the majority of the canal’s construction work was completed during this period. Hence, Bhagwant Singh Mann said that credit of commencing SYL project, acquiring the land and starting this project goes to Parkash Singh Badal whereas other Akali Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala got the construction work of the canal completed.
The Chief Minister said that in 2007, Parkash Singh Badal announced that the Section 5 of the act of 2004 would be done away with once the Akali Government comes to power but despite being in power for a decade the Badal Government did not take any action. regarding this. He said that on the SYL issue, three adverse decisions were made in the year 2002, 2004 and 2016 against Punjab in the Supreme Court. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that out of these, two came during the tenure of Shiromani Akali Dal government but they did not pursue these decisions in an appropriate manner despite spending a lot of money on lawyers.
The Chief Minister reiterated that the state has no spare water to share with any other state so instead of Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, the project should now be conceived as Yamuna Satluj Link (YSL). He said that Satluj river has already dried up and there is no question of sharing even a single drop of water from it. Rather, Bhagwant Singh Mann said that water from Ganga and Yamuna should be supplied to Punjab through Satluj river adding that he has raised this issue with the Union government too.
The Chief Minister said that the state government has emphatically presented the issue of the less availability of water and it has been recorded too in the decision of the Apex Court. He said that from the previous 30 years, the Akali Dal is playing with the sentiments of the people of Punjab adding that now also they are misleading the people on the issue. Bhagwant Singh Mann said that advocates of the state government have never mentioned anywhere that the canal can be completed.