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Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal

Topics Covered: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal

What to study?

For prelims: Geographical location of SYL canal and associated rivers.

For mains: Dispute over the construction of this canal, concerns and what needs to be done?

Context: Punjab Says No Surplus Water To Share, Haryana Hits Back.

Punjab has also demanded that suitable amendments be made to the proposed Inter State River Water Disputes Act to set up a new tribunal, to ensure that Punjab gets adequate water “in a just and equitable manner in keeping with its total demand and securing livelihood of the future generations.”

Meanwhile, Haryana has said that the Supreme Court decision on the Sutlej Yamuna link (SYL) canal issue will come soon because in the previous execution order, it was stated that the issue should be resolved amicably.

What is the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal, and the controversy over it?

Historical background:

  1. The creation of Haryana from the old (undivided) Punjab in 1966threw up the problem of giving Haryana its share of river waters.
  2. Punjab was opposed to sharing waters of the Ravi and Beas with Haryana, citing riparian principles, and arguing that it had no water to spare.
  3. Dragging_on_for_Decads
  4. However, Centre, in 1976, issued a notification allocating to Haryana 3.5 million acre feet (MAF) out of undivided Punjab’s 7.2 MAF.
  5. The Eradi Tribunalheaded by Supreme Court Judge V Balakrishna Eradi was set up to reassess availability and sharing of water. The Tribunal, in 1987, recommended an increase in the shares of Punjab and Haryana to 5 MAF and 3.83 MAF, respectively.

The canal:

To enable Haryana to use its share of the waters of the Sutlej and its tributary Beas, a canal linking the Sutlej with the Yamuna, cutting across the state, was planned.

tripartite agreement was also negotiated between Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan in this regard.

The Satluj Yamuna Link Canal is a proposed 214-kilometer long canal to connect the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers. However, the proposal met obstacles and was referred to the Supreme Court. It defines river water sharing between Punjab and Haryana.


Haryana has been seeking the completion of the SYL canal to get its share of 3.5 million acre-feet of river waters. It has maintained that Punjab should comply with the 2002 and 2004 Supreme Court orders in this regard. Haryana is getting 1.62 million acre-feet of the Ravi-Beas waters.

Sources: the Hindu.