SYL Canal notification is result of personal relationship with Badal : Devi Lal


Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, June 22: Let 5th time Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal deny this fact from history.

Chaudhary Devi Lal: “Speaker Sahib, I want to draw attention of Rao Sahib (Rao Birender Singh) through you that his party Congress too has ruled in Haryana, Punjab and centre for seven years but could not get the issue resolved. So much so that no decision was arrived at even to acquire land. The result of our personal relations is now before all. The talks between our government and Badal government hav resulted in notification having been issued by them. I would like to read out the notification to remove all misgivings..(Thumping)… This would remove all doubts about land acquisition. Punjab government  is making every effort. The notification states:

“Whereas it appears to the Governor of Punjab that land is likely to be required to be taken by Government at the public expenses for public purposes namely for construction of SYL Link Canal in village Kamalpur and Sarala Kalan, Tehsil Rajpura, District Patiala”.

Rao Birendra Singh: Under what section notification has been issued?

Chaudhary Devi Lal: It is under Sections 4 and 17. I would also like to tell Rao sahib that but for this session, I was to preside over the function and Badal Sahib was to inaugurate it.

This is part of the debate in the Haryana Assembly on March 1, 1978 and the record is available in Assembly archives. Both Badal and Chaudhary Devi Lal had come to power in their respective states in 1977 elections.

The entire text of this notification is also available  in White Paper on Ravi-Beas Agreement, 1981 released by the Punjab government headed by Darbara Singh on April 23, 1982.

The families of Parkash Singh Badal and Chaudhary Devi Lal had very close ties which even the present generation continues to maintain. It was the Badal government that installed statute of Chaudhary Devi Lal near Punjab-Haryana border in Bathinda district.

It was then Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra who put his foot down. It was Chaudhary Devi Lal who had disclosed this understanding between him and Badal to Tohra in the central hall of Parliament to organize function on the Punjab-Haryana border from where this canal was to enter the neighbouring state. Tohra was on record.

The effort by Parkash Singh Badal to mobilise people and panchayats on the SYL link Canal issue has to be viewed in this background. The Haryana government approached the Supreme Court only after decision to lay the foundation stone could not take off. Punjab then challenged Sections 78, 79 and 80 of the Punjab Re-organisation Act under which Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had announced her award in 1976.

This is just one document. Going by the record available, everyone is guilty. The record must be set straight when efforts are being made once again  to make it an  election issue. Panchayats have been told to pass resolutions.

An advertisement today appeared in a Punjabi paper reiterating the commitment that Punjab government made on the floor of the Punjab Assembly on March 10, 2016 to protect the interests of Punjab at every cost. This is under Badal’s name.

Going by the newspaper reports, there is mixed response to this campaign. The villages along the SYL Canal in Punjab favour water to flow so that their parched fields can be irrigated. The water level has drastically gone down. This has multiplied the cost of installing tubewell. The free power to tubewell has at one level done more damage by way of excessive withdrawals.

Akali leaders including Badal continue to mislead people when they assert that not a drop would be allowed to flow out of Punjab. These leaders don’t talk of the water already flowing to Rajasthan and Haryana through Rajasthan Feeder and Bhakra Main line.

Chaudhry Devi Lal’s statement is significant at another level. He has absolved the Congress indirectly saying no decision could be taken on this canal when that party was in power for seven years. While he was instrumental in getting land acquisition notice issued by the Badal government, it was the Akali Dal government headed by Surjit Singh Barnala that started construction of this channel. Badal had ratified the Punjab accord to get Assembly ticket. It was under this Punjab Accord that Punjab had committed to complete this canal. Water might have been flowing through it but for the intervention by politics of violence.


Jagtar Singh


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