Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has yet again written to the central government seeking its intervention in getting the Presidential reference (pertaining to the termination of water-sharing agreement legislation passed by Punjab assembly) listed before the Supreme Court for an early decision. The CM has also sought the attorney general's help in this regard.
The President had referred the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 for opinion to the apex court by a reference of July 22, 2004. The matter was last listed before the court on July 14, 2009.
In a July 3 communication to union water resources minister, Pawan Kumar Bansal, the chief minister said that it is the only Presidential reference pending for more than seven years. "Due to this delay, Haryana is being meted out unfair treatment. We are within our rights to request the government of India to have the decision expedited. Therefore, I would request that the attorney general may be advised to bring this fact to the notice of the Supreme Court and have the matter listed for an early decision,'' Hooda wrote.
The chief minister had, in December 2011, written to the union water resources minister saying that despite assurances by him (Bansal) and union law minister that the apex court would be requested to take up the matter on urgent basis, no action seems to have been taken in this regard.
In fact, the union water resources minister, in his reply on March 3, 2012, had said that the central government will not play a partisan role in the matter and wanted to remain impartial.
Hooda in his July 3 communication, however, has clarified by saying that Haryana was not suggesting that union of India take a partisan position. "We are only requesting that the matter should be decided by the Supreme Court at the earliest. Since it is a Presidential reference, only the attorney general of India can mention the matter before the Supreme Court for an early decision,'' the chief minister wrote to water resources minister.
Haryana contends that it is unable to carry its legitimate share of 3.5 million-acre-foot (MAF) of Ravi-Beas water due to the non-construction of Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal. "At present only 1.62 MAF water is being transported to Haryana through the existing BML canal. Haryana has constructed the BML Hansi-Butana multipurpose link channel for supplying water to water-starved areas of the state, which were to be originally fed through SYL canal. But unfortunately the linking of Hansi-Butana multipurpose link channel to Bhakra main line has been stayed by the Supreme Court. Therefore the need of the hour is to expedite the construction of SYL canal. The state is getting less than half of its authorised water allocation,'' CM had written.
About the agreement
The Punjab assembly in July 2004 passed the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act. The legislation terminates all agreements relating to the Ravi-Beas waters, including the agreement of 1981 signed by the chief ministers of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. It also fully discharges Punjab government from any obligation arising from the agreements. The act provides that all existing and actual utilisations through the existing systems shall remain protected and unaffected.