Amritsar, September 26
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Tuesday sought handing over of Chandigarh to Punjab and strongly opposed the construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal — a contentious issue between Punjab and Haryana—saying it can lead to serious law and order issues.
Speaking during the 31st Northern Zonal Council meeting here, Mann opposed the proposal of affiliation of Haryana colleges with Panjab University, levying of water cess by the Himachal Pradesh government on hydropower projects, and Rajasthan’s demand of becoming the member of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).
The CM called for prosecution of illegal travel agents, demanding formation of a centre of excellence to counter the threat of drones, expediting the setting up of a regional centre of National Security Guards in Pathankot, and revision of flood relief norms.
The 31st NZC meeting was presided over by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
The NZC comprises Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territories of Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, and Chandigarh.
Presenting his case for handing over Chandigarh to the state of Punjab, the CM said the capital city of Punjab was officially shifted from Shimla to Chandigarh on September 21, 1953.
However, at the time of bifurcation of the state in 1966, the city of Chandigarh was made a Union Territory under the provisions of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 with effect from November 1, 1966, he added.
That has been the status quo since and it is a grave injustice with the people of the state, Mann said.
“Chandigarh was formed as a new Capital of Punjab over the land acquired in the state of Punjab,” he asserted.
Mann said although the issue has remained under deliberation at various forums, the demand for Chandigarh’s restoration to Punjab has not been addressed yet. Chandigarh is the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana.
On the SYL issue, Mann reiterated that the state has no spare water to share with any other state, so instead of the SYL canal, the project should be now be conceived as Yamuna-Sutlej Link.
The Sutlej River has already dried up and there is no question of sharing “even a single drop of water from it.” Rather, water from Ganga and Yamuna should be supplied to Punjab through Sutlej river, he said.
He said the SYL canal is a highly emotive issue for Punjab and its construction will lead to serious law and order issue with potential to affect the entire country, in addition to Haryana and Rajasthan.
Mann said Punjab has no surplus water to share with Haryana and reassessment of availability of water is needed to be done as per international norms, and demanded setting up of a new tribunal.
He said the state has been requesting for its association in negotiations for allocation of Yamuna waters, but its request has not been considered on the ground that no geographical area of Punjab falls in Yamuna basin.
Mann said that Haryana is not the basin state of Ravi and Beas rivers, yet Punjab is forced to share waters of these rivers with Haryana.
If Haryana gets Ravi-Beas water being a successor state of Punjab, the same example should be followed for Yamuna and its water should be shared with Punjab, he argued.
Opposing the water cess levied by Himachal Pradesh on hydro-power projects, Mann cited the section 7 of the Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956, which says no state government shall impose a fee on other state or its inhabitants, if the basis of the levy is that works for conservation, regulation or utilization of water of the inter-state river has been constructed within the limits of the state.
Mann strongly opposed Rajasthan’s demand for membership of the BBMB, saying it is a body constituted under the provisions of the Punjab Reorganization Act 1966, which primarily deals with the successor states of Punjab and Haryana.
Mann also flagged the issue of the Shanan Power House in Jogindernagar, accusing HP of unnecessarily raising the issue of its transfer on the ground that the 99-year lease of land is expiring in 2024.
He also made a case for using the water from Ujh and Ravi rivers going to Pakistan. He said that the state had proposed long back to stop this water by constructing a barrage across Ravi just downstream to the confluence point with Ujh at Makaura Pattan, which is within 4 km from Indo-Pak border.
On the Panjab University issue, Mann argued that Haryana and Himachal Pradesh cannot lay a claim on the varsity having unilaterally withdrawn their colleges from it in 1973 and 1975 and set up their own universities and stopped funding the Panjab University altogether.
It is Punjab which nurtured this university for 50 years, he said.
Mann also underscored the need for revision of clause of paid military for Punjab.
Being a border state, the state is fighting the nation’s war to combat terrorism and drugs but unfortunately whenever the state needs central para military forces to maintain law and order on behalf of the country we are asked to pay a hefty fee for it, Mann claimed.
On Rajasthan’s demand to maintain full level of Pong and Bhakra dams, Mann said no flood water from Sutlej or Beas flows to Haryana or Rajasthan or to any other state due to which Punjab had to face all the damage caused by the floods in 1988, 2019, and most recently a month ago.
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