Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Saturday sought the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to get the Centre to shelve its proposal to transfer the subject of water from the 'state list' of legislation rights to the 'concurrent list'. The concurrent list includes subjects on which the Centre and states both can make laws.
In letters addressed to the PM, union home minister P Chidambaram and union water resources minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who is the MP from Chandigarh, Badal said the Congress-led UPA government must not move away from the "nationally and internationally accepted Riparian Principle".
Badal referred to the July 13 disclosure by Bansal, who had said here after the Northern Zonal Council (NZC) meeting of CMs chaired by Chidambaram: "Members of a Parliamentary Committee have favoured the idea of putting water in the concurrent list to help the Centre have a greater say in settling inter-state disputes."
Bansal's statement, made in the presence of two other union ministers had created an impression that it was not a casual remark but a well thought-over plan of the central government, said Badal. "This (statement) came within hours of the statesman-like observation of the union home minister during the NZC meeting that the question of river waters was an extremely sensitive and delicate issue and needed to be handled with utmost care at the highest level."
Badal noted that at the meeting, chief ministers of other states had also highlighted the issue of the central government's "move to usurp powers of the states by shifting subjects from the states to the concurrent list and from the concurrent to the union list".
"Punjab strongly opposes the proposal as it has a bearing on the crucial question of Centre-state relations…[and]… has profound political and constitutional implications," said Badal, asserting that, any attempt to constrict the rights of the states could only lead to an atmosphere of "avoidable suspicion, mistrust and confrontation" between the Centre and the states.