Punjab assembly passes resolution, says no to water-sharing

Chandigarh, Nov 16 (IANS) Even as the opposition Congress members stayed away, the Punjab assembly on Wednesday passed a unanimous resolution against sharing of river waters with other states.

The resolution, moved by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal during the assembly’s special one-day session, was adopted in the absence of 42 Congress legislators who had resigned on November 11 from the 117-member house to protest against a Supreme Court verdict on a Presidential reference by dubbing a 2004 law passed by the Punjab assembly to end a water-sharing agreement as “unconstitutional”.

The resolution even directed the Punjab government to demand payment from other states for the river water supplied to them over the past few decades. It asked the government to seek the Centre’s help to recover water dues from Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi.

Addressing the assembly, Badal reiterated that Punjab did not have even a single drop of river water to spare and no water would be allowed to flow to Haryana.

Badal said: “The state government will do everything possible to stop water from flowing to Haryana. We will not implement the (Supreme) Court order at any cost; not a drop of water from Punjab will be given to anyone even if we have to go to jail.”

The assembly also directed the Punjab government and its departments and agencies not to hand over land to any agency and neither cooperate in the construction of the controversial Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal.

“Any decision to rob the state of its legitimate rights on river waters will not be acceptable to me nor to the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance government in the state,” Badal said.

Taking strong exception to the absence of Congress legislators, Badal blamed the opposition party and its leadership for “betraying Punjab and its people on territorial issues, including river waters”.

The Punjab government, on Tuesday, ordered de-notification of nearly 5,000 acres of land acquired for the SYL canal nearly four decades ago.

Amid the escalating water row between Punjab and Haryana, BJP legislators from Haryana on Wednesday met Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore to seek blocking of the Punjab government’s move to de-notify the acquired land. Led by Haryana BJP President Subhash Barala, the BJP legislators urged the Governor not to give his assent to the move.

Haryana has a BJP government while in Punjab, the BJP is an alliance partner with the ruling SAD since 2007.

The BJP legislators said the Punjab government’s move was in contempt of the Supreme Court verdict.

The Presidential reference was sought after the Punjab assembly in 2004 passed the controversial ‘Punjab Termination of Water Agreements Bill’ to end all water-sharing laws with other states.