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Don’t try to turn Punjab into tinderbox; Capt. Amrinder warns NDA on river waters issue

April 3, 2015 | By

Chandigarh: Deputy Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Capt Amarinder Singh warned that the party would launch a state-wide agitation in case the Badal-BJP government participated in any talks with Haryana over sharing of Punjab’s river water.

Capt Amarinder said, “If Badal can’t, we can safeguard the interests of Punjab. We will not let our waters to be diverted to any other state.” He was flanked by nine Congress MLAs, former MLAs and senior party leaders, including Leader of Opposition Sunil Jakhar.

Captain Amrinder Singh and other congress leaders [Photo Courtesy: The Tribune]

Captain Amrinder Singh and other congress leaders [Photo Courtesy: The Tribune]

Capt Amarinder warned that any attempt at rapprochement between Punjab and Haryana over sharing of river water had the potential to turn the state into a tinderbox. “We all have seen how the Satluj-Yamuna link canal issue had disturbed peace in Punjab, a state that barely has enough water for its own needs. Any effort to disturb the status quo can disturb the prevailing calm,” he said.

The Congress leader as the Chief Minister had got The Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, passed in the Vidhan Sabha, which annulled all inter-state agreements signed by Punjab on the sharing of water of the Ravi and Beas rivers. He questioned the authority under which Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharti had announced that she would get both Punjab and Haryana CMs on board to sort out the dispute over the sharing of river water.

“The matter is pending before the Supreme Court. How can she decide? Parkash Singh Badal is known to be a self-serving individual, and his silence on Uma Bharti’s statement is odd. I think the BJP has had a pact with Badal on the issue, and to save himself or his family, he has chosen to remain silent,” he said.

He claimed Badal was not raising the issue with the NDA government, of which the Akali Dal was a constituent. “It is strange that he also chose to support the land acquisition Bill, though he claims to be a champion of the farmers. He has also stopped speaking about the plight of Punjabi farmers in Gujarat who are being divested of their land,” he said. (The Tribune).

PTAA and the issue of Punjab River Waters:

It is notable that Punjab Termination of Agreements Act (2004) passed by the Capt. Amrinder Singh led government in Punjab had blocked the construction of the SYL canal for the time being but it had done a larger damage. Before the enactment of PTAA the river water of Punjab were being robbed through illegal arrangements, made from time to time at the behest of Centre, but since the adoption of Section 5 of Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 illegal allocation of Punjab’s river water to non-riparian states has received the stamp of Punjab Assembly.

Both Congress and the ruling Badal-BJP combine are responsible for this situation as section 5 was passed unanimously by Punjab Assembly during Congress rule and current ruling regime, in spite of its’ promise to terminate the section, has continued to ignore the interests of Punjab. It’s worth mentioning here that the Badal government had promised to terminate section 5 of PTAA made by SAD (Badal) in its’ election manifesto during 2007 Punjab Assembly elections, but it did not take any steps in this direction.

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