Yoginder Gupta and Naveen S Garewal, Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, July 13. The one-day 26th meeting of the Northern Zonal Council (NZC) could not resolve long-standing contentious issues between various states as the participating states stuck to their known stand on these issues and decided to leave their resolution to some other day.
On the various water disputes, including the SYL canal and the Hansi-Butana canal, between Punjab and Haryana, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who had presided over the meeting held here today, said a separate meeting exclusively on this issue would have to be convened.
However, Chidambaram maintained that on several issues various states reached an agreement. But he did not elaborate those issues, which, he said, would be known when the minutes of the meeting would be circulated by the Secretary, NZC, “soon”.
When Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, who had hosted the meeting, raised the issue of transfer of Chandigarh and other Punjabi-speaking areas to his state, his Haryana counterpart Bhupinder Singh Hooda said these issues could not be discussed in isolation. If any decision was to be taken, then all the pending issues should be considered keeping in view the decisions and awards of various courts and tribunals, he added.
Similarly, Hooda did not agree with Badal’s contention about the channelisation of the Ghaggar and the Lisara Nallah. Earlier Badal had underscored the need for channelisation of the Ghaggar from Makorar Sahib to Karail. Hooda said since the earlier channelisation of the seasonal river had caused immense floods in Haryana in 2010, the behaviour of earlier channelisation should be watched for some more years.
Badal also raised the issue re-excavation of lower Lissara Nallah that originates from Dhamot village in Ludhiana district and falls into the Ghaggar, urging the Centre to prevail upon Haryana to get the nallah re-excavated in its territory. Hooda again responded in negative, saying that Punjab should not insist on earlier alignment as 2000 acre had already been returned to farmers. Punjab should take the Lisara Nallah water to the Satluj through the Chandbhan drain as was planned in 1960s.
Badal said there was a genuine need to establish a genuine federal structure in the country, with more financial and political powers to the states. He complained that the tendency of the Centre to usurp, “through open and clandestine ways”, the powers and authority of the states had been on the rise “at a scale never seen before”.
Hooda urged the Central government to request the Supreme Court to expedite its decision on the issue of presidential reference concerning the Ravi-Beas waters as it was the only reference which had been pending for more than seven years.
Hooda also urged Badal to start the work on the link between Anandpur Sahib and the Ropar Thermal Plant, so that Haryana was able to carry its share of water through the BML as per the original project report of the SYL canal. He said the second Ravi-Beas link should also be constructed at the earliest as even after signing of the Indus Water Treaty in 1960, more than three MAF of water was being allowed to flow into Pakistan.
Hooda pointed out that while Haryana was supplying quality water to Delhi, but in return, it was getting extremely polluted water from Delhi at Badarpur border, both in Gurgaon and Agra canals.
Chidambaram underlined the need to resolve the issues of common interest in spirit of cooperative federalism to promote better Centre-state and inter-state relations. Listing a few recent initiatives taken by the Union Government to strengthen the Centre- state Relations, the Union Home Minister said a commission under the chairmanship of Justice M.M. Punchi, former Chief Justice of India, was constituted to look into the changing dynamics of Centre-state relations.
Among those present at the meeting included Governor of Punjab and Administrator, UT Chandigarh Shivraj V. Patil, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Himachal Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand and Lt. Governor of Delhi Tejendra Khanna.