Daily World Special SYL imbroglio: Centre’s draft proposal ready — No SYL shall be built, addl water to flow to Haryana

Manish Tiwari | Chandigarh

The Union government has finalised a draft proposal to end the vexed river-waters issue between the two neighbouring States of Punjab and Haryana. The formula among other things includes that the SYL canal shall not be built even as all efforts shall be made to augment the capacity of the Bhakra Main Line canal and the Narwana Branch to carry additional water to Haryana, it is learnt.

On the other hand, the Centre is expected to propose to work out a plan to augment the capacity of the Bhakra Main Line and the Narwana branch at the expense of the Union government so as to carry additional water to Haryana, highly-placed sources in Delhi informed Daily World on Friday.

ÔÇ£The basic sweetener for Haryana is that Punjab shall withdraw its case from the Supreme Court regarding Hansi Butana canal — that is expected to irrigate Southern and South-Western areas in Haryana. This would automatically lead to vacating the apex courtÔÇÖs stay on the puncturing of the Bhakra Main Line to connect it with Hansi Butana canal within HaryanaÔÇÖs territory,ÔÇØ a source said.

While Punjab has already made its stand clear that the SYL should not be constructed at any cost and that it would not compromise on this issue, Haryana wants the SYL to be constructed at the earliest.

According to the proposed plan, Punjab would not forego its existing usage even as the proposed saving of 1,000 cusecs of water would be effected by Rajasthan Feeder canal and Sirhind Feeder canal at the expense of the Union government. ÔÇ£While the additional water harnessed over and above the existing usage of Punjab may be allowed to flow to Haryana, saving beyond 1,000 cusecs can be retained by Punjab. At the same time, Rajasthan would be assured of its existing quota of water,ÔÇØ the source added.

During the negotiations between the two States, the Centre also took notice of the fact that the States of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab had mutually agreed to recommence the construction of the Shahpur Kandi Dam project on river Ravi, downstream the Ranjit Sagar Dam. While this will harness excess Ravi waters flowing to Pakistan, it will also avoid surges in the existing Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) system in Punjab, the sources informed. ÔÇ£Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already taken both the Chief Ministers into confidence,ÔÇØ another source said.

On Thursday, the Centre informed the Supreme Court that it was working on a settlement formula between Punjab and Haryana over the contentious SYL issue and that there was an atmosphere of optimism. Attorney General KK Venugopal submitted before a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on September 7 that since there was a possibility of a settlement, the Government of India needed some more time to mediate between the two States and work out an amicable solution. The Bench subsequently gave another six weeks to the Union government to work on its formula to find a solution to this long standing dispute, especially between the States of Punjab and Haryana.

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