Blaming the Union government for “grave injustice” with Punjab on the river water-sharing dispute, Punjab government on Friday indicated that it was legally examining to stop current flow of Punjab’s river water to Haryana and Rajasthan.
These political temperature-raising twin attacks were launched by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal separately and are aimed at mounting pressure on the BJP-led central government — in which their Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is a partner — and to outwit the Congress in the unfolding political tussle over the inter-state tug-of-war over water.
And this stance of the Badal government is a part of its calibrated strategy that comes a day after Supreme Court termed as “unconstitutional” Punjab’s 2004 law, which had scrapped all water-sharing treaties between Punjab and its neighbouring states, including Haryana.
“We respect court, but we respect the Constitution of India even more that clearly forbids the government of India from arrogating to itself the right to adjudicate on distribution of river waters among states. Grave injustice has been done to Punjab by the government of India violating this constitutional clause,” Badal said in a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee, seeking audience, along with council of ministers.
And, the deputy CM Sukhbir Badal opted Jalandhar to fire another stunning salvo, saying the Akali Dal-BJP government was also legally examining the issue of stopping already flowing water to Rajasthan and Haryana.
Sukhbir’s disclosure is significant as the government is likely to bring a new bill in the November 16 emergency session on the inter-state water dispute.
“The state government is mulling all options to stop implementing the anti-Punjab judgment. We will disclose the next move in the assembly session… Na kise nu andar badan devange te, na hi paani di boond devange (We will neither allow anyone to enter Punjab, nor give a drop of water),” Sukhbir said.
Government sources say at the heart of this move to bring a bill is to go beyond the 2004 Act passed unanimously by the assembly during the Congress rule (2002-07).
But Clause 5 of the 2004 Act protects the current flow of Punjab’s river waters to Haryana and Rajasthan and the Akali Dal is exploring the option of bringing the bill with primary objective of stopping current flow of water to the neighbouring states.
Scrapping this clause is an election promise of the Akali Dal that blames Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder for having “delivered the biggest blow” to state’s interest by giving a “legal guarantee” to the flow of Punjab’s river waters to Haryana and Rajasthan.
“The SAD-BJP government will take political, legal and constitutional steps to redress this grievous wrong done to the people of the state,” the 2007 manifesto of the Akali Dal promises.
Akalis demand is to implement “internationally accepted riparian principle”, applied by the Supreme court in Narmada river water dispute. “Why should an exception be made to this principle only to turn Punjab into a desert?” 2007 manifesto of Akali says.