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Satluj Yamuna Link Canal


  • Satluj Yamuna Link Canal (SARYU)or SYL is a proposed 214-kilometer (133 mi) long canal to connect the Sutlej and Yamuna. 122 km of which was to be in Punjab, and 92 km in Haryana. It diverts water of Sutlej from Punjab through canal to Yamuna in Haryana.
  • SYL canal was envisaged in 1976. But still it was not complete due to dispute between Punjab and Harayana over distribution of Sutlej water.
  • After the partition of India in 1947 into India and Pakistan, dispute arose between two Countries over sharing of water of River Indus and its tributaries. While negotiations for resolving the dispute were in progress in 1954, activities had already started in India in anticipation of a treaty.
  • This led to a situation in which utilisation and development of water resources in one State would hamper the same in another.
  • Although the issue of water of Sutlej river was resolved through the Bhakra Nangal project, the issue of surplus waters of Ravi river and Beas river use remained.
  • On 29 January 1955, the states of Punjab, PEPSU, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir came to an agreement regarding the distribution of water from the rivers, with Punjab being allocated 5.9 MAF (million acre-feet) and PEPSU gaining 1.3 MAF out of the estimated 15.85 MAF of water while Rajasthan gained 8 MAF and Jammu and Kashmir gaining the remaining 0.65 MAF.
  • With the merger of Punjab and PEPSU in 1956, the total share of Punjab became 7.2 MAF
  • The Indus Water Treaty reached in 1960 allowed India unrestricted use of water from Sutlej, Ravi and Beas.
  • The dispute regarding sharing of river water emerged after Punjab as reorganisedin 1966, and the state of Haryana was created.
  • Haryana demanded 4.8 MAF out of Punjab's total 7.2 MAF share of water from the rivers. While Punjab opposed sharing of waters of the Ravi and Beas with Haryana and claimed the entire quantity belonged to it citing riparian principles.
  • Punjab is only Riparian State for three rivers Satluj, Ravi, Beas, flowing in Indian Punjab (Himachal, J &K are upper riparian states - with no dispute). Haryana & Rajasthan do not fall in river basin of any of these three rivers, that means no rain water drain from Haryana, Rajasthan is coming into these rivers and there is no loss to Haryana and Rajasthan due to floods in these rivers. So Haryana and Rajasthan are not riparian states for these Punjab Rivers.
  • River water and Hydel Power is State Subject which means a riparian state has full rights to control its river waters for irrigation and power. Haryana was created by Punjab Re-Organisation Act -1966. River waters cannot be divided among successor states if both states are not riparian (Haryana and Rajasthan are non-riparian). Haryana claims that it is riparian state of Sutlej river as the upper reaches of Sirsa Nadi which is a tributary of Sutlej river is draining north western area of Haryana state. Rajasthan claims that it is also a riparian state of Sutlej river as its northern area is part of the river basin.
  • Haryana asked the Union government to intervene as no agreement could be reached. In 1976, when the country was under an internal emergency, an executive order was issued by the Union government which allocated 3.5 MAF of water to both states while Delhi received the remaining 0.2 MAF. In order to make full use of the allocated water, a Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal was proposed. The decision was met with opposition in Punjab. 
  • After the Indian National Congress came to power in Punjab in 1980, an agreement was reached on 31 December 1981 between Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, which were all under INC rule.
  • On 8 April 1982, Indira Gandhi formally launched the construction of the canal at Kapoori village of Punjab in 1982.
  • The construction of the canal's portion in Haryana was completed by June 1980.
  • The Akali Dal government in Punjab under Surjit Singh Barnalastarted the construction of the canal in Punjab, which was done so by 1990 and only 10 % of the canal of Punjab part was left. Suddenly, the construction was stopped in July 1990 after a Chief Engineer associated with its construction was shot dead by militants.
  • The canal remained uncompleted due to dispute over the issue. 

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