This otherwise non-descript tiny village on the Punjab-Haryana border wouldn’t have caught attention but for the foundation stone-laying ceremony of Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal that took place here on April 8, 1982. The canal meant to transfer water from rivers passing through Punjab to Haryana is now a bone of contention between the two states.
A day after Supreme Court’s adverse (in context of Punjab’s stand) decision, Kapuri village has again become hub of political activities. The village and all routes leading up to the canal are full of people belonging to different political and farmer outfits, raising anti-SYL Canal slogans.
The Punjab government has also deployed police personnel on the canal banks.
The Aam Aadmi Party has opened an indefinite ‘morcha’ (front) to not let water flow from outside Punjab through this canal. A similar front—Dharam Yudh Morcha—was opened here by the Akali Dal in 1982.
Ram Gopal Sharma, 66, who was a witness to the ground-breaking ceremony by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, said, “Our groundwater level has gone down and farmers need canal water. Punjab’s stand against sharing water is legitimate.”
Farmer Leela Singh, who had come from Deelwal village of Sangrur, said, “I have come here to join the ‘morcha’. I was part of the 1982 ‘morcha’. Our Malwa region direly needs water and won’t allow construction of this canal at any cost. How the Courts can decide cases without hearing farmers who are the real stakeholders.” He, along with a dozen farmers, has come here to show solidarity with the movement against the canal.
After the state denotified the land acquired for the project, the villagers were happy that some of them will get back the land.
“Instead of playing politics, all principal parties of Punjab should fight it together. Forming a tribunal to decide the water share is the only solution. The political rhetoric is due to ensuing elections,” said Gurpreet Singh, 22.
AAP starts protest, vows to save water at all costs
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Friday started a ‘morcha’ for indefinite period at Kapuri village and vowed to go to any extent to save the interests of Punjab on the water-sharing issue.
The AAP leaders held both Akali Dal and Congress responsible for the controversy surrounding the SYL Canal, and claimed that the party will resolve the issue if it forms the next government in Punjab. However, there was no word how the party will achieve that. The party leaders also didn’t answer queries regarding AAP convener Arvind Kerjiwal’s silence on the issue.
Prominent leaders of the AAP who addressed the gathering, included state convener Gurpreet Singh Waraich, Punjab affairs in-charge Sanjay Singh, Jarnail Singh, HS Phoolka, Sukhpal Singh Khairaa, Kanwar Sandhu and others.
Waraich said Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder was responsible for the SYL Canal accord, and he was now shedding crocodile tears to get political mileage. “If Captain Amarinder is serious on protecting the water of Punjab, he should resign from the Congress,” Waraich said, adding that Captain should ask his “boss” Rahul Gandhi to clear his stand on the issue.
“It is unfortunate that Rahul Gandhi has hailed the opinion of Supreme Court on the SYL issue, and on the other hand, his party MLAs have resigned from Punjab assembly. Doesn’t that show the double standards of the Congress?” he said.
The AAP leaders said chief minister Parkash Singh Badal must clarify the stand of the BJP on the issue as Modi-led central government took anti-Punjab stand in the Supreme Court. “If Badal is serious, he should sever political ties with the BJP and instruct his daughter-in-law Harsimrat Kaur Badal to resign from the Modi’s cabinet,” said Sanjay Singh.
The leaders said they launched the ‘morcha’ to assure the farmers that the party was with them and won’t allow the canal.
Supreme Court lawyer and AAP leader HS Phoolka said, “Punjab is not bound to adhere to the opinion of the Apex Court. If Punjab is forced to give water to any other state, it will happen on the bodies of farmers and AAP leaders.”