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Decades-Long Unresolved Row Over The Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal

  • Published
    6th Jan, 2023

The stand-off between Haryana and Punjab continues to haunt the proposed Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) as the chief ministers of the two states failed to reach an amicable solution at a meeting hosted by the Union Jal Shakti ministry.

What is Sutlej-Yamuna Link?

  • The Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) is a proposed 211-kilometre canal.
  • It would connect the Sutlej River in Punjab with the Yamuna River in Haryana, providing Haryana with a share of the water from the Ravi and Beas rivers that flow through Punjab.


  • The SYL canal project was proposed following the Indus Water Treaty in 1960 between India and Pakistan, which granted India 'free and unrestricted use' of the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej rivers.
  • The canal was also intended to address the dry conditions in the present-day Punjab-Haryana region.
  • The Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal was planned in 1966 when Haryana was separated from Punjab.
  • In 1976, the Government of India approved the construction of the canal.

What are the developments so far?

  • While a 121 km stretch of the canal was to be built in Punjab, another 90 km was to be constructed in Haryana.
  • Haryana completed its portion of the project by June 1980, but work on the portion in Punjab, which was launched by Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, near the Kapoori village in Patiala district, was stalled.

What Is The Controversy Around SYL?

  • The issue of water rights and allocation of water from the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers.
  • The potential impact on the environment and local communities (water levels and flows of both rivers, potentially leading to water shortages and environmental degradation)
  • The potential impact on local farmers and communities (displacement of people and loss of agricultural land)
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