What is Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal (SYL) Dispute?

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What is Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal (SYL) Dispute? Blog Image


Union Jal Shakti minister has recently convened a meeting of Punjab Chief Minister and Haryana Chief Minister to resolve the issue. However, the meeting over the issue remained inconclusive.

About Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal (SYL) Dispute:

  • The Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal (SYL), is an under-construction canal to connect the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers.
  • The decades-old dispute over the canal, which is supposed to carry water from Punjab to Haryana, has its origin in a disagreement over sharing of Ravi-Beas water.
  • The river Beas joins river Sutlej in Punjab.
  • The dispute regarding sharing of river water emerged after Punjab was reorganised in 1966, and the state of Haryana was created (out of Punjab).
  • After this, Punjab refused to share waters of Ravi and Beas with Haryana.


Dispute on water sharing:

  • Before the reorganisation in 1955, out of 15.85 million acre feet (MAF) water of Ravi and Beas, the Centre had allocated 8 MAF to Rajasthan, 7.20 MAF to undivided Punjab, 0.65MAF to Jammu and Kashmir.
  • In March 1976, when Punjab Reorganisation Act was implemented, the Centre notified fresh allocations, providing 3.5 MAF To Haryana.
  • Later, in 1981, the water flowing down Beas and Ravi was revised and estimated to be at 17.17 MAF. Out of this, 4.22 MAF was allocated to Punjab, 3.5 MAF to Haryana, and 8.6 MAF to Rajasthan.
  • To enable Haryana to use its share of the waters of the Sutlej river and its tributary, Beas, a canal linking the Sutlej with the Western Yamuna Canal, was planned. The 212-km canal (SYL) was supposed to carry Haryana’s share of water to its southern parts.
  • 122 km of the canal was to pass through Punjab and the remaining 90 km was to pass through Haryana. Haryana has completed its side of the canal, however, Punjab has continued to delay the construction for over three decades.
  • In 2002 and 2004, the Supreme Court ordered the completion of the canal in Punjab.
  • In 2004, the Punjab assembly passed a law, which declared all inter-state agreements related to the sharing of Ravi and Beas waters, as invalid.
  • However, in 2016 the Supreme Court invalidated (cancelled) this law.


Q1) Where does the Sutlej River originate?

The origin of Sutlej River is located close to Lake Rakhastal in Tibet in the vicinity of the Kailash Mountain Range. It enters India via the Shipki La Pass located in Himachal Pradesh.