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SYL canal row: Forest department at sea over land transfer

cities Updated: Nov 19, 2016 11:08 IST
Atul Nagpal
SYL canal row

Forest cover along the banks of Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal in Fatehgarh Sahib. (HT Photo)

Even as the revenue department is in the process of transferring the land acquired for the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal to the original owners, the forest department has got no intimation about the entire exercise.

As many as 50 mutations have already been completed in Fatehgarh Sahib district as the revenue department is in the process of transferring the land acquired for the SYL canal to the original owners.

Stating this on Friday, Chunni Kalan kanungo Narinder Singh said the state government had acquired the land of 500 farmers of 29 villages of the district for the canal.

On the other hand, the forest department has still not received any communication from other departments or ministries concerned.

“We haven’t received any notice on the proposed return of the land yet,” said Tejinder Singh, district forest officer (DFO), Mohali.

However, he clarified that as far as they are concerned, ownership does not matter until someone tries to cut the trees. “Ownership can be of anyone, but the forest cannot be cut. Any deforestation attempt by anyone, even the owners of the land, will invite action according to the forest act,” he said.

The forest department had recovered nearly 1.75 lakh as penalty against illegal felling of trees by farmers in March this year and managed to save timber going into the hands of wood thieves.

However, the revenue department could not confirm the number of total mutations to be done as they are still compiling the data.

“I cannot say anything about the number as we are still working on it,” said Kiranjit Singh Tiwana, district revenue officer (DRO).


Meanwhile, officials claimed that they will first transfer land to the original owners, even if they are dead and their legal heirs will be found later as there are still no instructions for giving physical possession of land. “That will take time.” Tiwana added.

This leaves several questions unanswered. Who exactly will take the physically possession of the land after its transfer on paper? Will farmers be able to fill the nearly 20-25 feet deep canal? Will they be able to use the land for any purpose as the forest department is taking a tough stance as the land along the banks comes under the forest cover?


Several revenue department officials, including a DRO, 9 patwaris and two kanungos are working constantly to compile the data and identify the owners of the land.

Many of the entries made in records show the land of 4-5 farmers under a single entry. The department is still to find how many mutations they need to do.

The entire SYL area in the district falls in Khamano and Bassi Pathana tehsils, but the drains and distributaries which were supposed to be operational with the SYL canal fall in five villages of Khera block of tehsil Fatehgarh Sahib.

Sukhpinder Kaur, tehsildar, Fatehgarh Sahib said that though no SYL canal land falls under her jurisdiction, she still needs to work on it for the mutation of land falling under the drains and distributaries to original owners.

Meanwhile, Bassi Pathana MLA (SAD) Nirmal Singh on Friday appealed to original owners of SYL land and their heirs to submit their requests for mutation with the revenue department.


CHANDIGARH: Punjab revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia on Friday appealed all revenue officials to implement cabinet’s “historic decision” on the SYL canal land transfer to original owners by “rising above all considerations”.

In a letter to the deputy commissioners, subdivisional magistrates, tehsildars, naib tehsildars, kanungos and patwaris concerned, the minister reminded them that their one signature (while transferring SYL canal land to rightful owners in revenue records) will safeguard the future of Punjab children and their coming generations.

“Anyone failing to obey the wishes of the people of Punjab will be doing disservice to its people and will not be forgiven for generations to come,” he said in a one-page letter.

“You might have to endure inconveniences by working overtime and also on holidays. I only ask you to treat it as a service to the people of Punjab who will remember you as its modern day heroes who safeguarded the interests of its people for all times to come,” the letter reads.