With the Punjab and Haryana fighting over water share, the Centre has sent a team to Punjab to assess the damage to the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal.
Haryana objects to the Punjab Act to de-notify the land acquired for the canal, and Punjab says it “won’t allow the SYL at any cost”, so looking to prevent a law-and-order situation, the Union government’s was forced to make it first direct interference in the matter since opposing the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, in the Supreme Court.
The central team has Home Ministry’s joint director Dalip Kumar as leader and Water Resources Ministry officials as members. They will visit Fatehgarh Sahib, Rupnagar, and Patiala districts to access the damage to the canal. Looking at the visit, Punjab has altered its land revenue record to show 70-odd farmers who filled the canal as “illegal” occupants of the SYL land, the ownership of which is with the irrigation department. Its report states that those who broke the canal at 30-odd places before the Supreme Court ordered status quo were “unidentified people”.
“The land record has been changed and the report submitted to the chief secretary,” said a source close to the developments. Since the assembly session is on, the Punjab government has kept the visit a secret but alerted the deputy commissioners and senior superintendents of police to remain available for any communication with the visiting officials.
In spite of several attempts, chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal did not respond to the telephones calls to get his version. The apex court has appointed the chief secretary, the director general of police, and the Union home secretary as receivers of the canal.