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SYL: Punjab move not in the right spirit

The Punjab Assembly’s resolution annulling all agreements and awards regarding distribution of river waters is unconstitutional and not in the right spirit. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is harping on the point that the surplus water is 14.71 MAF and not 17.17 MAF. This is not an issue because if the flow available in a particular year is less than 17.17 MAF (say 15.71 MAF), then the share of each state can be reduced proportionately. This award was followed by the Rajiv-Longowal Accord of 1985 under which the Eradi Tribunal was set up and everybody is waiting for its award.

By annulling all the agreements and awards, Punjab has foolishly forfeited its own share of waters from different rivers. Now the position is back to square one. The total flow (32 MAF) from all the three rivers — the Ravi, the Beas and the Sutlej — is the property of Himachal Pradesh as all the dams and the storage reservoirs are located within the territory of the state. Punjab is only a beneficiary state and it cannot claim the ownership of the Ravi, the Beas and the Sutlej waters simply because the rivers happen to traverse 30 per cent of their length through Punjab which hardly contributes 5 per cent of the total flow.

 

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50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Going by Punjab’s logic, the Himachal Pradesh Assembly can also pass a resolution to acquire total rights over the exclusive use of water and power generated from the Bhakra, the Pong and the Ranjit Sager Dam and give a damn to the downstream states. Or can the Haryana Assembly pass a resolution banning movement of Punjab’s vehicles in its territory? Therefore, the Haryana Chief Minister is very right when he says that the Punjab Assembly’s resolution, if not quashed by the court, would create a constitutional crisis.

RAM NIWAS MALIK, Engineer-in-Chief (retd), (Public Health, Haryana) Panchkula

II

It is sad to see our sister states fighting over the use of river waters. Pakistan was allowed to waste the Chenab river water, by allowing it to flow into the sea, as no storage dam is feasible over the Chenab in Pakistan.

The Indus Water Treaty of 1960 did not help us. Though almost the entire encatchment area of the Indus basin rivers falls in India, and 47 per cent in the Indus basin cultivable area (which includes Haryana and Rajasthan also), according to the latest World Bank figures, is in India, and 53 per cent in Pakistan, Jawaharlal Nehru accepted to have just 19 per cent of the total annual flow of the six rivers. In fact, India was very much justified to claim 47 per cent of the total annual flow, and should have claimed the entire water of the Chenab.

Punjab’s engineers had suggested to Jawaharlal Nehru for claiming the Chenab water which could be used by liking it with the Ravi in Jammu but he didn’t agree. Even if Pakistan does not agree to rectify the treaty, India should unilaterally discard the 1960 treaty as Pakistan too has been discarding all the treaties.

ANAND PRAKASH, Chief Engineer (retd), (Irrigation, Punjab), Panchkula

III

The issue has become serious due to the Centre’s discriminatory attitude towards Punjab vis-a-vis its neighbours. Successive Chief Ministers of Punjab did not fight for their right and were either bullied into submission by the Centre or chose to remain silent.

The spirited Captain Amarinder Singh, during Operation Blue Star, had resigned from Parliament. This time he has been wise and courageous. He consulted leading jurists and got the Bill passed by the Assembly annulling all agreements relating to the Ravi-Beas waters. He will have to pay the price for his belligerent stand for the sake of Punjab and its people. But then, “sufferance has been the badge of our tribe” and it turns into elixir giving greater courage.

Dr SURINDER SINGH, Senior Fellow, Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi

IV

By terminating all river water accords with other states through a resolution, the Punjab Assembly has killed two birds with one stone. First, it avoided the implementation of the Supreme Court ruling on the issue. And secondly, it tried to win over the support of the Opposition parties including Mr Parkash Singh Badal and the voters of Punjab showing that the Punjab government is taking all steps in public interest and for helping Punjab’s farmers.

When an agreement is made between two parties (even private parties), the same can’t be terminated unilaterally by one party. Parties to the agreement have to abide by the terms and conditions laid doen in the agreement and the party which fails to do so has to pay penalty for the same.

Water accord is made between states under the Centre’s supervision. In case the same is to be terminated, it can be done either by mutual consent of the parties to the accord or under the powers of the Central Government and not unilaterally by one state. Punjab’s action is unsustainable under the law.

Lt-Col B.S. CHUMAN (retd), Jalandhar Cantt

V

Your editorial “Off with agreements” (July 14) may be correct in the eyes of the law but in case we apply logic, we will see an altogether different picture. Any agreement or decision which could not be implemented for decades has no moral authority to enjoy life. Such unimplementable agreements should have been written off long back. Hence, the Punjab Assembly is quite justified in annulling these agreements through a unanimous resolution.

M.S. GILL, Kokri Kalan (Moga)

Rajinder’s ouster unfair

Indian Hockey Federation Chief K.P.S. Gill’s abrupt dismissal of Chief Coach Rajinder Singh a month before the Athens Games indicates that Gill’s stewardship has long run amiss. In fact, Union Minister of State for Sports Sunil Dutt should remove Gill from his post forthwith.

Whether Rajinder opted out on his own or whether he was pushed to the wall, the morale of the Indian hockey squad is bound to take a beating just before the Olympics. Why was the decision about the coaches not taken well in time by Gill? Does he think that he can do whatever he likes and get away with it? Autonomous or semi-autonomous bodies also are accountable for their wayward actions and are not a power unto themselves. In any case, Gill and others, who have by now have got rusty in these national sports bodies, need to be retired and others brought in in their place.

Maj-Gen Himmat Singh Gill (retd), Chandigarh

Wrong usage

Apropos of the sports news-item “IHF sacks two coaches after Holland disaster” (July 7), the use of the word “sack” is incorrect. This gives the impression that only they are responsible for the dismal performance of the team in the Robobank Trophy and so deserve to be punished.

The word “replaced” or “dropped” would have been more appropriate, meaningful and, above all, graceful. After all, they are officials and not culprits.

Prof SURJEET MANN, Sangrur

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