M A I N   N E W S

Punjab to seek total control over Bhakra, Beas projects
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
Over four decades after Parliament enacted the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, the Punjab Government is all set to file a suit in the Supreme Court challenging the legality of Sections 78 and 79 of the Act.

The government will also seek complete control over the administration, maintenance and operation of Bhakra-Nangal and Beas projects, which are at present look after by the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) since 1976.

According to highly placed sources, top legal eagles in New Delhi are giving final touches to the writ and it could be filed before mid-March.

Set to face Assembly elections in about a year, the Capt Amarinder Singh government would like to tom-tom its achievements via-a-vis the river waters before the electorate. And, the proposed writ is also part of the same game-plan.

Section 78 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act deals with the issue of rights and liabilities in regard to the Bhakra-Nangal and Beas projects, while Section 79 is the one under which the Bhakra Management Board, the previous avatar of the BBMB, was constituted by the Government of India.

Section 78 also gives overriding powers to the Central Government via-a-vis the Bhakra-Nangal and Beas projects. The right to receive and utilise the water available as also the power generated from the projects is governed by the Section 78.

“The government feels that the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej are Punjab’s rivers as they flow within the state and the Parliament erred in depriving the people of Punjab their right to exclusive use of these waters. All that we are planning to do now is to correct this wrong,” said a senior officer, who is part of the Punjab Government team which is finalising the suit.

Incidentally, the move to challenge the vires of the two Sections also has its genesis in the May 2, 2005, order of the Rajasthan High Court, directing the BBMB and the Union Government to take over the administration, management and operation of the headworks located within Punjab.

As per the order, the BBMB was made responsible for the administration, maintenance and operation of the irrigation works and headworks at Ropar, Harike and Ferozepore.

The High Court order was stayed by the Supreme Court on May 10, 2005.

When contacted, Advocate-General, Punjab, Rajinder Singh Cheema, who is said to be the main brain behind the move, refused to say anything on the subject.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |