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Right to River Waters: Petition Challenges Validity of Section 78, 79, 80 of Punjab Reorganisation Act

April 4, 2018 | By

Chandigarh: A petition filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court today has challenged the validity of sections 78, 79 and 80 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act (1966) pointing that when interpreted to extend the control of Punjab’s river water to the Centre, the sections violate the provisions of the Indian Constitution itself.

The petition is moved by Patiala MP Dr. Dharamvira Gandhi and his associates of the Punjab Federal Manch.

Section 78, 79, 80 violates the provisions of Indian Constitution:

Through their counsel Rajvinder Singh Bains and Loveneet Thakur, the petitioners said the sections 78, 79 and 80 of the Act were violative of articles 162 and 246(3) of the Constitution as “Irrigation and Hydel Power ” are the State Subjects under entry 17 of the State list.

Dr. Dharamvira Gandhi, Advocate Rajwinder Singh Bains, Journalist Sukhdev Singh and others addressing the press conference.

Therefore, the Parliament was not empowered to legislate on these provisions in so far as they hit the above mentioned articles.

“The sections talk about some hydel projects as those were setup by the undivided Punjab and thus they should have the limited implication. But the way these sections encroach over the state subjects, which makes them ultra-vires of the Constitution”, Advocate Rajwinder Singh Bains said during the press conference held at the Press Club (Sector 27) Chandigarh.

Petition Also Challenges Section 14 of Inter-State River Waters Dispute Act:

The petitioners also sought a declaration to the effect that section 14 of the Inter-state River Waters Disputes Act 1956, too, was unconstitutional which hit the entire scheme of providing for the competency of a State to raise disputes and their resolution through tribunals and experts.

Punjab Owns 30 Lakh Crores from Non-Riparian States: Dr. Gandhi

Another major prayer raised by the petitioners was that the court may provide for a suitable machinery to evaluate and grant the cost of water to the State of Punjab by the recipient States namely Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi and Chandigarh.

On their part, Dr Gandhi and his associates assessed the cost of water that, according to the petitioners, worked out at Rs 11 lakh crore against the State of Rajasthan alone.

“If we take the cost of water as 1 paisa per litter, the cost that was proposed by the Government of India itself for allocation of water to Pakistan, the Punjab is to collect 30 Lakh Crores for the river water allocated to the non-riparian states”, said Dr. Dhramvira Gandhi.

Centre Devised Fraudulent Agreements to Loot the River Waters of Punjab: Advo. Bains

Advocate Rajwinder Singh Bains said that the Centre had devised “fraudulent agreements”, including the alleged agreement of 1955, 1981 and the Rajiv-Longowal Accord to loot the river waters of Punjab. He said that these agreements lack legal sanction and are null and void but the centre used these agreements to loot the only natural resource of Punjab.

Validity of Eradi Tribunal also Challenged:

The petition also challenges the validity of the Eradi Tribunal. “When the Rajiv-Longowal accord had no legal sanction, how Tribunal formed on the basis of such accord could have legal sanctity?”, Advocate Rajwinder Singh Bains asserted.

The petitioners asserted Punjab’s total rights to all three rivers of the State to utilise and manage the head-works and other projects.

Punjab Could Turn Into New Sinking Region on the Earth:

During this press conference a retired professor of Geology, Dr. Malkiat Singh Saini said that over exploitation of ground water of Punjab has create another crisis for Punjab which threatens the safety of over ground structures. He said that over exploitation of water has resulted in subsoil vacuum in Punjab and the earth could start sinking. He said that there are some regions on the earth where this problem is already there.

It is notable that the Mexico city is one such region here the earth is sinking due to over-exploitation of ground water.

Jal Bin Sakh Kumlavati” a booklet released by the erstwhile Sikh Students Federation (SSF) notes that the incidents of submerging of earth have started to happen in Punjab also. The booklet notes one such incident where a woman washing cloths near a submersible pump had submerged in the ground and her dead body was recovered from a pit at about 30 feet. The report points that the incident was connected to underground vacuums created by over-exploitation of ground water.





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