Wednesday, August 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Congress for amending accord on river waters
Tribune News Service


Mr Onkar Singh Thapar of Delhi demanded that Sant Harchand Singh Longowal be declared a national martyr and his portrait should be included in the gallery of Parliament House in the Union Capital.

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Mrs Sham Kaur, sister of Sant Longowal , who was accompanied by some other relatives was profusely garlanded as she came to attend the function. In her brief speech, she assailed the previous SAD-BJP government for ignoring all her applications for help.

Longowal, August 20
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today that the Congress government in Punjab would seek amendments to the rivers waters part of the Rajiv-Longowal accord, besides announcing that the state government would organise a state-level function every year to mark the martyrdom day of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the Congress was committed to the accord as it was signed by the then Prime Minister and President of the Congress, Rajiv Gandhi. But the part dealing with river waters was drafted taking in consideration only the Bhakra-Beas waters and not the entire river waters of undivided Punjab. “We want that entire river waters should be taken into consideration before deciding the share of states that were carved out of undivided Punjab on the riparian principle”.

Speaking at the first-ever state-level function organised here today to commemorate the 17th death anniversary of the Sant, the Chief Minister said the Sant was a nationalist and a doyen amongst the great martyrs.

Holding the present Shiromani Akali Dal leadership for ignoring immediate family members of the Sant, he said it was Mr Parkash Singh Badal who had rejected the Rajiv-Longowal accord and condemned the Sant. He said it was ironical that the same leadership which had no time for the immediate family members of the Sant and who had been condemning the Sant all through were now observing his death anniversary.

“Why did not the previous SAD-BJP government organise any state-level function to mark the martyrdom day of the Sant? We invited all political parties to join the function today. Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia (Lok Bhalai Party) and Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura (CPI) accepted our invitation and attended the function,” he said, holding that the ongoing campaign of rooting out corruption from the state would continue.

Talking to newsmen, he said the Congress stood by the charge sheet it brought out against former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and efforts were being made to link his “benami properties”.

The Chief Minister said the criticism of his visit to the UK and USA was “unfounded and baseless”. Rather it was a great success and all senior functionaries of the consortium were expected to visit Punjab by the end of next month. “Only when the money starts flowing for the overall development of drinking water, sewerage and other facilities in the state, that the critics would see for themselves the success of this tour,” he said.

Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia said at one time, Akalis were symbolic of sacrifice. But today, their image changed and now they had become symbolic of corruption.

Mr Ramoowalia said he had been one of the closest disciples of Sant Longowal and it was unfortunate that the SAD-BJP government never recommended his name for Bharat Ratna though it wrote for the elevation of Ravi Sidhu as a member of the Union Public Service Commission.

Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura appreciated the anti-corruption drive of the present Congress government. Mr Avtar Singh Henry, one of two members of the Punjab Council of Ministers present at the conference, also lashed out at the previous SAD-BJP government for indulging in largescale corruption.

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