Tuesday, September 11, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

SYL: CMs want more time
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
The Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana, who had a closed door meeting with the Union Home Minister in Delhi, may request for more time from the Apex Court for finding a solution to the vexed problem of completion of the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal.

The Apex Court had wanted that the Prime Minister should ask the Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Parkash Chautala, to reach a settlement on the rivers water issue failing which the Court would give its verdict.

The deadline given by the Supreme Court for a negotiated settlement ended yesterday.

Both Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Om Prakash Chautala are not only close friends but are also a part of the ruling National Democratic Alliance. However, no meeting at the level of the Prime Minister with the two Chief Ministers could reportedly take place on the issue of the SYL as the Prime Minister had remained heavily occupied not only with the Monsoon Session of the Parliament but certain other important developments at the national level which needed his intervention and attention.

Naveen S Garewal & Vimal Sumbly add from Ludhiana: Sources close to the Punjab Chief Minister revealed that Mr Badal and Mr Chautala had joint and separate meetings with the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, in New Delhi today. Although the specific agenda of the meeting of the two Chief Ministers could not be confirmed, but it has led to speculations that there were closed door meetings to reach some agreement on the outstanding issues between the two states. While, Mr Badal wants Chandigarh for Punjab he is reported to have offered to get the Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal (SYL) completed, which may give a new lease of life to lakhs of farmers in Haryana.

It was reliably learnt that Mr Badal desperately wants some assurance from the Union government on Chandigarh's transfer to Punjab, in accordance with the Rajiv-Longowal accord. In return Haryana will get the Hindi speaking areas of Abohar and Fazilka, besides due share of river waters and also the compensation for setting up a new capital. While the amount at that time was put at a few hundred crores only, now it may run into thousands of crores.

Sources pointed out that the Shiromani Akali Dal led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal was now trying to fulfil his promise made in the election manifesto to get Chandigarh transferred to Punjab.

On the other hand, sources close to the Haryana Chief Minister said Mr Chautala was not inclined to concede Chandigarh to Punjab on a platter, irrespective of his closeness to Mr Badal. Since former Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhajan Lal was also a signatory to the Rajiv-Longowal accord, Mr Chautala is being persuaded to put the blame on the erstwhile Congress government.


Badal-PM meeting damp squib
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 10
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s meeting with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today did not raise any sparks on the contentious minimum support price (MSP) issue as was expected.

Authoritative sources said Mr Badal maintained a low key during his meeting with the Prime Minister and in fact thanked Mr Vajpayee for his personal intervention in increasing the MSP of paddy to extend more than price suggested by the Commission on Agriculture Costs and Prices.

The Centre on Friday last had effected an increase of Rs 20 in the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy from the existing Rs 510 per quintal to Rs 530 per quintal for the current kharif season.

Punjab and Haryana who have been lobbying with the Centre for an increase of Rs 50 per quintal in the MSP for paddy and had met Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee with this demand on August 10 along with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.

The MSP of grade A variety of paddy has been hiked from Rs 540 per quintal to Rs 560 per quintal. The MSP of paddy (common and grade A) varieties has been increased by Rs 10 per quintal over the MSP recommended by the commission.

Mr Badal was accompanied by the state Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljeet Singh, the Food Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, and the Local Government Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon.

Incidentally, the Punjab Chief Minister’s meeting with the Prime Minister took place half-an-hour before Mr Vajpayee’s scheduled meeting with his Economic Advisory Council to discuss ways and means to root out the economy from the current mess.

The Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council has strongly suggested that populist measures such as raising of the MSP for political mileages should be stopped if the economy is to be brought back on the rails.

Mr Badal and his ministerial colleagues also met the Union Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha.

During the day, Mr Badal also called on the Civil Aviation Minister, Mr Shahnawaz Hussain and Coal Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.Back

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