Punjab objects to centre’s move on water


Chandigarh : Punjab has objected to a move by the central government to transfer the subject of water from the state list to the concurrent list, accusing it of trying to usurp the powers of states.

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A spokesman of the chief minister’s office said Sunday that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had sought direct intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to get the centre to shelve the proposal.

Badal has written letters to the prime minister, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal urging them “to desist from the purported move before it leads to further suspicion and harm”.

“What was required at this stage was the resolution of the inter-state water issues harmoniously in accordance with the nationally and internationally accepted riparian principle,” Badal wrote in his letters.

Badal’s response came in wake of remarks by Chidambaram that the central government was considering a proposal to transfer the subject of water in the constitution from state to concurrent list.

Badal said the news had “alarmed and anguished the people of Punjab who were already feeling aggrieved over the discrimination meted out to them on the issue of river waters”.

He said by transferring subjects from the state to the concurrent list, the centre was trying to usurp the powers of states.

He said the central government was making such moves in “a secret manner” and not informing the states.

Badal said sharing of river waters was an emotive issue and a root cause of militancy which Punjab and the rest of the country had to pass through during the 1980s and 1990s.

He said Punjab opposed the reported proposal, with regard to both the jurisdiction of the states on river waters and the larger issue of union-state relations.