“ASK SC TO SETTLE RIPARIAN QUESTION FIRST”, SAD TELLS GOVT AT THE ALL PARTY MEET
Chandigarh January 23 – The Shiromani Akali Dal today reiterated its demand that nothing short of the Riparian Principle would be acceptable as the basis for a solution to the issue of waters of all three Punjab Rivers, the Ravi, the Satluj and the Beas. The party also demanded the deletion of the Clause 5 of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act 2004 as according to the party, it violates the Riparian Principle.
Addressing media persons after the All Party Meeting convened by the Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, the SAD senior leader Prof Chandumajra said, “ SAD has made supreme sacrifices and launched major Morchas to secure Punjab’s right on the waters of its rivers on the basis of the Riparian Principle under which non-Riparian State like Rajasthan and Haryana had no right on even a single drop from the waters from the Punjab Rivers. It is unfortunate that in the past, some parties, notably the Congress opposed the SAD on the issue. But we feel vindicated that today finally, all political parties have accepted the correctness and constitutional and legal soundness of the Akali demand. “
The SAD delegation comprised senior Senior Vice President, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra and Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal.
The SAD senior Vice President expressed satisfaction over “the SAD’s success in getting the CM to agree to convene a special session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to state that no exception would be made to the Riparian Principle in the final settlement of the River Waters dispute and to consider deletion of Clause 5 from the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act. .”
“We wanted the All Party meet to reject the Clause 5 of the Punjab Termination of Agreements of Act today itself as it constitutes an exception in so far as it violates the Riparian Principle and should therefore be deleted in the Special Session of the Punjab Legislative Assembly to be called for the purpose. Although the final Resolution of the All Party Meet did not include our demand for deletion of that Clause, but we were able to get the other parties to agree to consider it during the special session of the PVS. We will insist on its deletion in the special session.“
Prof Chandumajra however regretted that the Aam Aadmi Party did not support the SAD demand for the deletion of this clause. “They remained largely quiet on the issue in the meeting.”
Prof Chandumajra urged the Chief Minister to demand royalty for the waters already given from Punjab’s rivers to Haryana and Rajasthan . “They have been using our waters against all constitutional and legal norms, precedents and principles. There are strong precedents supporting Punjab’s demand for royalty from Rajasthan and Haryana .”
Prof Chandumajra said his party presented its case at the All Party Meeting through a Resolution . He said that the party feels vindicated that for the first time, the SAD has succeeded in getting the Congress party and its government to commit to the Riparian Principle as totally un-negotiable. Prof Chandumajra said that the SAD would have liked the All Party Resolution to be more comprehensive and more categorical and “the party will continue to press the Congress government to stick to the inviolability of the Riparian Principle.”
The Akali leader also said that the Resolution submitted by his party “asks the Punjab government to vigorously pursue the suit filed by the former Chief Minister Sardar Parkash Singh Badal in the Supreme Court on the Rivers waters issue. The suit asks the Apex court to first settle the question of the constitutional right of any state on the river waters on the basis of the Riparian Principle before proceeding with the distribution. If no other state has any right on Punjab’ rivers, how can the question of distribution of river waters e even considered? .
He pointed out that the suit filed by Mr Badal as Punjab CM challenges the constitutionality of the clause in the Punjab Reorganization Act 1966 in so far as it relates to the river waters issue. The Act unconstitutionally empowers the centre to distribute river waters between Punjab and it non-Riparian neighboring states whereas as per the constitution only a tribunal can determine that question and that too only between Riparian Sates. As neither Haryana nor Rajasthan, being non-riparian , have any locus standi on the Punjab’s river-waters , they have no right on even a single drop of water from these rivers, said Pro Chandumajra.
The Akali leader said that the SAD BJP government headed by Sardar Parkash Singh Badal had effectively closed the Satluj Yamuna Link Canal Issue by returning to the farmers the land acquired earlier by the Punjab government for the said canal. Further, the Badal government had returned these lands free of cost to the original owners. The SYL issue is therefore dead, both from the legal and the practical angles, he said.
The Akali leader said that forcing Punjab to part with its river waters in violation of the Riparian Principle would flout all national and international legal and constitutional norms, principles and precedents. “That can be fraught with serious consequences in terms of law and order as the river waters are n issue of life and death for Punjabis. The SC must first decide who has a right over these river waters,” says the Akali Resolution at the All Party Meet.
A resolution submitted by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) to Punjab government during an all-party meeting convened to discuss the issue of river and groundwater.
Punjab has been calling as sword arm and bread provider of the country. Whenever a food crisis erupted in the country, the hardworking farmers of Punjab used their fertile land and water resources to its utmost level to eradicate the food scarcity in the country. But doing this repeatedly over the years, they have pushed themselves into a grave crisis as Punjab is facing a grave water crisis that threatens the state to turn into a desert.
Since independence, every law under the constitution of India threw into the wind to deny Punjab a legitimate right over its river waters. A major part of Punjab’s river waters was unconstitutionally given to Rajasthan in 1955. Following this, a right to take a decision on the allocation of river waters of Punjab was given to the central government under Punjab reorganization Act, 1966. The case filed by the Chief Minister of Shiromani Akali Dal government, S. Parkash Singh Badal in the Supreme Court demanding the removal of the clause pertaining to river waters in Punjab reorganization Act, 1966, was withdrawn after the Congress formed a government in the state under S Darbara Singh as per wishes of Indira Gandhi. Mrs. Gandhi robbed a large part of the river waters of Punjab and forcibly given it to Haryana during the emergency. She inaugurated the construction of Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal at Kapuri to give Punjab waters to Haryana. SAD started an agitation against this move by putting up a morcha at Kapuri which turned into a Dharamyudh morcha- a peak of SAD agitation against the Congress repression.
Another example of discrimination meted out to Punjab is that the Supreme court has passed an order asking Punjab to complete the construction of SYL canal without going through a fact-checking exercise that does any other state has a legitimate right over the river waters of Punjab or do these rivers have enough water that Punjab can share it with other states?
The SAD firmly believes that neither Punjab has a drop of extra water to share with the other state and nor any other state has any right over the river waters of Punjab. Practicing this stand in letter and spirit the SAD had even taken a courageous decision of returning the land acquired almost four decades ago by the state government for construction of SYL to its original owners and did not take any penny from them.
The SAD firmly believes that all parties should come together on this sensitive issue by keeping aside their political affiliations and start a joint movement for securing Punjab waters. The Party believes that the state government should behave responsibly by taking a clear stand on the issue of Punjab waters. This stand must be based only on the riparian principle. We should stick to the Riparian principle as every water dispute at national and international has been solved under the guidelines of riparian principle and there is no reason to deviate from this principle in any manner while solving the issue of river waters of Punjab.
Punjab could not get justice if the riparian principle is compromised in any manner and such a decision will not be acceptable to Punjabis.
The SAD announces its support to the state government if it wages a fight completely based on riparian principle to securing Punjab waters.
It is need of the hour that the fight to securing the river waters of the state should be only based on the riparian principle. First of all, a request should be made to the Supreme Court asking it to adjudicate on who has the right over the river waters?
Keeping in view all facts, SAD demands from Punjab government that it should convene a special session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to categorically assert that Punjab will accept no decision on river waters issue that violates the nationally and internationally accepted Riparian Principle.
If Punjab government comes up with such a resolution, the SAD will fully support it. It should be made categorically clear in the resolution that Punjab does not have a drop of spare water to share it with any other state and not any non-riparian state has any right over river waters of Punjab.
S. Balwinder Singh Bhundar
Jathedar Tota Singh
Prem Singh Chandumajra
Maheshinder Singh Grewal