Despite Akali opposition, Congress went ahead with construction of SYL canal

“Punjab state had to suffer a lot in wake of water sharing pact between neighboring states. Congress led governments in Punjab along with neighboring states of Haryana, Rajasthan and also at the centre helmed the construction of contentious Satluj-Yamuna link (SYL) despite strong opposition by Akali Dal.”

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What was initiated in the 1976 by then Comgress Chief Minister, Giani Zail Singh took the final shape in 1982 by ceremonially digging the SYL canal by Prime Minsiter, Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi had negotiated a tripartite agreement between Punjab, Haryana & Rajasthan and it must be noted that it was Congress government in all three neighboring states.

 

Darbara Singh as Chief Minister of Punjab, Bhajan Lal as Chief Minister of Haryana and Shiv Charan Mathur as Chief Minister of Rajasthan had facilitated construction of SYL canal by signing the treaty.

Akali Opposition

Akali Dal opposed this move & nail as Punjab being an agricultural state, had no water to spare with any state. Punjab’s groundwater was depleting rapidly it would have been
detrimental fos state’s economy & prosperity.

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Akali Dal launched Dharam Yudh Morcha in 1982 to oppose the construction of SYL canal. Akali Dal fought vociferously against the contentious issue and many of the Akali leaders were lodged behind the bars in wake of protest.

 

Deadlock on the water dispute

Sutlej Yamuna Canal, which was meant to carry water from Punjab’s rivers to Haryana, was also termed as one of the major reasons for trigger of militancy in the state. Construction of the canal was stopped in 1990, after militants gunned down a number of workers, the superintending engineer, and the chief engineer. More than 30 workers lost their lives in the midst of mayhem.

As of now there is deadlock on the issue, but much of the damage has already been caused. Besides, loss of massive amount of resources, the contentious & emotive issue also broke the peaceful & harmonious fabric of the state.

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