Punjab chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal has asked union minister of power Piyush Goyal to break the practice since the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) inception of appointing member-power from Punjab and member-irrigation from Haryana.
Kaushal conveyed this to Goyal when the minister arrived in Punjab on Tuesday to discuss electricity-related issues of the state. The chief secretary demanded that the posts be rotated between Punjab and Haryana “for transparent and smooth working of the BBMB”.
So far 18 incumbents have been appointed to both posts and there has been no rotation. “There are major issues related to the distribution of water from the Narwana branch of the Bhakra Mainline (BML) canal. Often, Haryana raise unnecessary issues over the calculation of the water supplied,” said Punjab irrigation department chief engineer AS Dullet, adding that the state was of the view that having own officer in charge of supply from the BBMB canal would help.
Normally, 12,500 cusecs of water flows into the Narwana branch and Haryana gets 40% of it. “Even though its own officer manages distribution of water, Haryana continues to complain,” said Dullet.
Goyal is reported to have told the Punjab officer that he would take up matter with Haryana. The union ministry of power finalise the appointment of both members from the names received from both states. It also appoints the BBMB chairman. All three posts are for three years or until the officer is 60, whichever is earlier.
Sections 79 and 80 given in part 8 (Bhakra Nangal and Beas projects) of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, speak of the appointment of the members and, nowhere it says, that a particular state would send one particular member.
Claiming “neutrality and impartiality” in the functioning of the board, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had also written to Goyal, asking him to appoint member-irrigation from Punjab. “Punjab and Haryana have equal interest in the subjects of power and irrigation, therefore let Punjab and Haryana hold these posts in rotation,” Badal had said on July 5, offering to send a panel of names from the state for the appointment of member-irrigation.
Punjab panel for new incumbent
The Punjab government has sent a panel of three engineers, VK Kalra and Damanjeet Singh from Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) and VK Garg from Punjab State Transmission Corporation Limited (PSTCL), for the appointment of member-power on the BBMB.
Incumbent Ashok Thapar has completed three years in office, while member-irrigation SL Aggarwal will complete his term on August 25. BBMB chairman AB Agrawal ended his three-year term more than a year ago and, as a stop-gap arrangement, kept getting three-month service extensions, repeatedly.