The Punjab cabinet on Friday decided to introduce the Punjab Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal (Rehabilitation and Re-vesting of Proprietary Rights) Bill, 2016, in the current Vidhan Sabha session to de-notify and return the entire land acquired for the contentious canal project to its original owners.
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday had announced in the Vidhan Sabha that the state government would bring a Bill to de-notify the acquisition of the entire 5,376 acres, asserting that Punjab did not have a single drop of water to spare.
“The cabinet has decided to introduce the Bill in the ongoing session for rehabilitation of landowners by re-vesting of the proprietary rights on the appointed date, by way of a grant in respect of the land acquired by the state government for construction of the SYL canal to the owners or their successors-in-interest, from whom it was acquired, as the case may be, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in other Act for the time being in vogue,” a government spokesperson said.
The decision was taken in a specially convened meeting of the cabinet chaired by the chief minister at Punjab Bhawan here.
The spokesperson said the record of rights would stand amended and modified to that effect by the revenue authorities concerned from the date on which the Act was notified. The cabinet also gave approval to the draft bill, which further stipulated that such landowners or their successors-in-interest, as the case might be, would repay the total amount of compensation and all statutory benefits accrued to them along with the rate of interest to be notified by the government, in 60 equal instalments starting from the expiry of sixth months from the date of notification, failing which the same would be liable to be recovered as arrears of land revenue.
The Bill also envisaged that the provisions of the Act would have an overriding effect, notwithstanding anything containing in any Act, rule, judgment, decree, notification, order or any other instrument having the effect of law.
The chief minister on Thursday had moved a resolution on the issue in the Vidhan Sabha, which was unanimously adopted in the absence of the opposition Congress. The resolution said Punjab is primarily an agrarian state and the river waters are its lifeline.
“Now the situation has become extremely grave and to tolerate this injustice would amount to signing a death warrant for Punjab and Punjabis. Punjab doesn’t have a single drop of water to share with anyone. The House resolved not to accept any decision against injustice to river waters of Punjab. Any attempt to divest Punjab of the Ravi and Beas waters and force the decision to construct the SYL on Punjab in defiance to nationally and internationally accepted riparian principles would not be tolerated at any cost,” the resolution read.
No hearing in SC on presidential reference
Chandigarh: The hearing in the Supreme Court on the Presidential reference on the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act could not be held as the five-member Constitution bench did not sit on Friday. The Punjab assembly had on July 12, 2004, enacted the Act, annulling all inter-state agreements signed by the state relating to sharing of the Ravi and Beas waters, including the December 1981 tripartite agreement with the chief ministers of Haryana and Rajasthan. The Act completely discharged the Punjab government of any obligation arising from the agreement.