Tug Of War Over Chandigarh Intensifies Between Himachal, Punjab

Shimla/Chandigarh: The tug of war for the legitimate rights over the Union Territory of Chandigarh intensified when Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu on Monday said the government would address long-standing issues of its rights with neighboring states that have been in limbo for a long.

Tug of war over Chandigarh intensifies between Himachal, PunjabPhoto Credit: IANS

The other issue, he said, is to raise the state’s power share in all Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) projects.

Sukhu said extracting waters from the BBMB projects without the need for any no-objection certificate (NOC) from the BBMB is a win-win situation for Himachal and now the state has intensified its efforts to secure its legitimate rights over the Union Territory of Chandigarh.

“The Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, clearly mentions Himachal Pradesh’s entitlement to its share of 7.19 percent in Chandigarh. The state has been deprived of this right since the very beginning which is a grave injustice to the people of Himachal,” said the Chief Minister in a statement.

Sukhu’s statement comes in the wake of his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann during his state’s Leader of Opposition and Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa to clarify the stand of his party on the claim of the Himachal government over Chandigarh.

Mann said Bajwa must clear the stand of his party over the false claim made by the Congress government in Himachal.

He also quipped that Bajwa, who is also hand in glove with the BJP, must also clarify the stand of the saffron party over the issue.

The AAP leader further said it is shameful that these leaders change their stance over the interests of the state for their political benefits in other states.

Mann unequivocally said Chandigarh is, Chandigarh was and Chandigarh will always be an integral part of the state. He categorically said the state government was firmly committed to safeguarding the interests of the state and its people.

After Mann’s assertions, Himachal Chief Minister and Congress leader Sukhu paid him back in the same coin by saying, “Now, the state government is raising its voice on all appropriate platforms to get all legitimate rights due to Himachal, including its entitlement of 7.19 per cent share in Chandigarh.”

The Himachal government has constituted a Cabinet sub-committee to look into all aspects of this matter and subsequently, a report will be submitted to the Cabinet to be discussed at length. The government will decide its further course of action after taking into consideration the findings and recommendations of the Cabinet sub-committee.

Sukhu said the government is exploring all options to recover its arrears in power share as well. He said the apex court had already decided to grant a power share of 7.19 percent in all BBMB projects in November 2011.

Official sources said that currently Himachal is receiving its share, but an arrear of 13,066 million units of power has still not been released in favor of the state. Besides, the state has also demanded to raise its power share in all BBMB projects set up in Himachal Pradesh, as natural resources of the state are being used to generate electricity through these power projects.

The Chief Minister said the current power distribution from BBMB power projects allocates 51.8 percent to Punjab, 37.51 percent to Haryana, and only 7.19 percent to Himachal Pradesh.

File Photo: Bhakra Dam

“So, the partner states shall consider liberally enhancing the share for Himachal Pradesh as thousands of families had been uprooted and thousands of hectares of land submerged due to construction of these power projects,” he said.

The Chief Minister emphasized the need for equitable distribution of shares among the partner states in these projects. The government is leaving no stone unturned to obtain the rightful share of Himachal Pradesh and its commitment to the welfare of its people remains unwavering, and the government will continue to raise issues of the state on various platforms until justice is served, reiterated Sukhu.

Responding to assertions of Punjab Chief Minister Mann, Leader of the Opposition Bajwa said he along with the Punjab Congress will always stand firm to safeguard the interests of Punjab and is committed to robustly defend Punjab’s rights over Chandigarh.

“My and my party’s stand is crystal clear that not even a single inch of Chandigarh could go to Himachal or Haryana,” senior Congress leader Bajwa said.

He said he had never remained silent on the issues concerning the interests of Punjab. On the contrary, it is the Aam Aadmi Party-led Punjab government that attempted to dilute Punjab’s claim on the capital and river waters. Bajwa, who last week called on Himachal Chief Minister Sukhu in Shimla, said the AAP government had already surrendered Punjab’s right over Chandigarh. CM Mann has yet to delete his July 9, 2022, tweet in which he demanded a piece of land in Chandigarh from the Centre for a separate Punjab Vidhan Sabha. This means that Mann still owns his statement in that tweet, which actually weakens Punjab’s case.

“Besides this, the AAP government never presented the case of Punjab’s rights on its river waters strongly enough. At a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in July 2022, the AAP government’s cabinet ministers Harjot Singh Bains and Harpal Singh Cheema demanded a new tribunal for assessing the state’s river water that weakened Punjab’s rights on river waters,” Bajwa said. Mann never cited riparian law to claim Punjab’s rights on river waters in meetings held lately, Bajwa added.

Courtesy: “IANS”

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