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SYL Canal row: House terms Punjab move patently illegal

CHANDIGARH: The Haryana Vidhan Sabha today passed a “unanimous” resolution, condemning the passage of a Bill by the Punjab Assembly that de-notified land for the SYL Canal.

SYL Canal row: House terms Punjab move patently illegal

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar welcomes Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki on the opening day of the Budget session of the Assembly in Chandigarh on Monday. Tribune Photo: Manoj Mahajan

Pradeep Sharma

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 14

The Haryana Vidhan Sabha today passed a “unanimous” resolution, condemning the passage of a Bill by the Punjab Assembly that de-notified land for the SYL Canal.

It termed the Bill “unilateral and unconstitutional” and said the Bill denied the authority of the Supreme Court, “a step only to draw political mileage”.

The resolution moved by Irrigation Minister Om Prakash Dhankar, termed Punjab’s move “a patently illegal act and in utter contempt of the Constitution, federal structure of the country and the rule of law”.

“This is a sinister move of the Punjab Government, having dangerous potential to undermine the unity and integrity of this country,” the resolution alleged, urging the Centre to annul the “illegal and unconstitutional action”.

Dhankar, while moving the resolution, said that since the formation of Haryana in 1966, and despite the tripartite agreement between Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan in 1981, Rajiv Longowal Accord in 1985 and two historical decisions of the Supreme Court in 2002 and 2004, Haryana had been deprived of more than half of its legitimate share of 3.5 MAF in surplus Ravi-Beas waters, resulting in the reduction in agricultural production to the tune of 8 lakh tonnes every year and causing a perpetual annual loss of about Rs1,000 crore.

Instead of fulfilling its legal and constitutional obligation to provide Haryana its legitimate share of water, the Punjab Government preferred to pass the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, the minister said.

“Now, Punjab has made another attempt to circumvent and divert the outcome of the Presidential Reference under consideration of the Supreme Court and depriving Haryana its legitimate share of water by passing the Punjab Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal (Rehabilitation and Re-vesting of Proprietary Rights) Bill to de-notify the land, lawfully acquired for the canal,” Dhankar alleged.

Quoting a Constitution Bench in the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal when an ordinance was passed by a state seeking to nullify the order of this court, the minister said: “Such an act is an invitation to lawlessness and anarchy, in as much as the ordinance is a manifestation of a desire on the part of the state to be a judge in its own cause and to defy the decisions of the judicial authorities. The action forebodes evil consequences to the federal structure under the Constitution and opens doors for each state to act in the way it desires, disregarding not only the rights of the other states, the orders passed by instrumentalities constituted under an Act of Parliament, but also the provisions of the Constitution. If the power of a state to issue such an ordinance is upheld, it will lead to the breakdown of the constitutional mechanism and affect the unity and integrity of the nation.”

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar urged all parties to unanimously pass the resolution by rising above politics in the interest of the state. He condemned the unilateral and unconstitutional action of Punjab, which he said was a step to draw political mileage.

Legislators split on obituary resolution

Even as a resolution condemning the passage of the Bill de-notifying the land for the SYL united the Haryana Assembly, the obituary resolutions divided the House.

The provocation for the ugly caste politics rearing its head in the House was provided by Independent MLA Jai Prakash, who wanted the names of all those killed in the recent Jat quota agitation included in the obituary resolution.

Certain BJP legislators, including Gian Chand Gupta, Mool Chand Sharma and Pawan Saini, were on their feet opposing Jai Prakash's demand, saying that the original resolution 'placing on record the sad and untimely demise of those innocent persons, who lost their lives' should be a adopted.

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