JCB machines go silent, farmers postpone work to fill SYL canal

  • Vishal Rambani, Hindustan Times, Kapoori/Rajpura
  • Updated: Mar 19, 2016 09:49 IST
Security personnel deputed at the SYL canal site near Rajpura on Friday. (Bharat Bhushan/HT Photo)

After plundering the forest wealth and filling the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal land in Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib and Rupnagar districts for two days, the farmers put the operation on hold following the Supreme Court order not to return the acquired land to the owners.

Dozens of JCB machines that made a roaring noise and levelled the canal in Banur, Rajpura, Kappori and Ghanuli villages near Chunni disappeared on Friday. The authorities also deployed three police companies alongside the canal in Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala and Rupnagar districts.

Police deployment

“A company of 100 policemen was deployed in Patiala district on Friday. We are keeping a close watch on the situation,” said Patiala senior superintendent of police (SSP) Gurmeet Singh Chauhan.

The apex court has appointed Punjab chief secretary and director general of police (DGP) as receivers of the canal to check any violation of the court’s order.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders, who had taken the lead to fill the canal with the farmers, were also absent from the scene. However, some farmers tried to level the ground near Ghanuli, but they were stopped by the police. “There are no directions from the party, thus we have put the operation on hold,” said a Youth Akali Dal leader.

Malwa zone president of the Youth Akali Dal Harpal Juneja, who till Thursday evening had deployed around 100 earthmoving machines in Banur, said: “We have stopped the work to fill the canal after the apex court order. But it is clear that Punjab doesn’t have a drop of water to spare. We are ready to make sacrifices to fight for our rights.”

No action against forest plunders

Meanwhile, Fatehgarh Sahib and Rupnagar district authorities have failed to take action on over 10 complaints of green felling from forest officials. Rajpura forest range officer Makhan Singh said 125 full-grown trees were uprooted in the area. “I have sent reports to the police and the Patiala deputy commissioner, but to no avail.” However, the Patiala SSP denied receiving any complaint from the forest officials.

SAS Nagar divisional forest officer Tejinder Singh said: “We are getting support from the police and administration. The earthmoving machines have been withdrawn, thus saving the forest wealth from the plundered.” It will take us minimum two days to count the number of lost trees.” He added. However no police personnel could be spotted by HT team on Friday.

Don’t want profit

Meanwhile, owners of earthmoving machines at Chunni Khurd village in Fatehgarh Sahib said they had deployed their machines not to earn profit.

“We had a deal that we would only charge for the fuel. However, I am yet to receive that money,” said a JCB machine owner. “The work to flatten the area was stopped on Thursday evening. Some local Akali leaders had hired the JCB machines.”

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