- The Haryana Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution seeking the completion of the SYL canal.
- It also denounced Punjab for staking claim over Chandigarh.
- The Punjab House had passed a resolution seeking immediate transfer of the UT to the AAP-run state.
The Haryana Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution seeking the completion of the SYL canal and the transfer of Hindi-speaking areas from Punjab, while denouncing the neighbouring state for staking claim over Chandigarh. The Haryana government had summoned the one-day assembly session just days after the Punjab House passed a resolution seeking the immediate transfer of the Union Territory of Chandigarh to the Aam Aadmi Party-run state.
“This House notes with concern the resolution passed in the Legislative Assembly of Punjab on 1 April, 2022 recommending that the matter for transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab be taken up with the Central government,” the Haryana resolution said.
“This is not acceptable to the people of Haryana,” it said, adding that Haryana continued to retain its right to the joint capital of the two states. The resolution, moved by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, was adopted unanimously after a three-hour debate. It was backed across party lines in Haryana. Participating in the discussion, former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda slammed the resolution passed by the Punjab Assembly.
“The Punjab resolution has no meaning, it is only political gimmick,” the Leader of Opposition in the Haryana Assembly said. “Punjab's role as an elder brother is acceptable, but if it tries to play the role of the big brother, that is not acceptable to us,” the Congress leader said.
The resolution urged the Centre not to take any steps that would disturb the “existing balance” till all issues between the two states are settled. Punjab has made similar moves in the past as well, staking complete control over Chandigarh. And Haryana has harped on Punjab’s reluctance to share river waters through the long-delayed Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal project.
The tit-for-tat resolutions follow the recent row after Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced that the central service rules would now apply to the employees of the Union Territory of Chandigarh. The new AAP government saw this as an attempt by the BJP-led Centre to diminish the state’s say in the UT.
But like Punjab, the Haryana resolution has raised objections over the recent amendment by the Central government on the appointment of members of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB). It said the amendment went against the spirit of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 which treats river projects as common assets of the successor states of Punjab and Haryana.
“Under these circumstances, this House resolved to urge the Central government not to take any steps that would disturb the existing balance and to maintain harmony till all the issues emanating from the reorganisation of Punjab are settled.”
The resolution urged the Central government to take measures for the construction of the SYL canal in compliance with the directions of the Supreme Court. It said the right of Haryana to share waters of Ravi and Beas rivers by the construction of the SYL canal is “historically, legally, judicially and constitutionally established over time”.
“Several agreements, accords, tribunal's findings and judgements of highest judiciary of the nation have all singularly upheld the claim of Haryana to the waters and directed completion of the SYL canal,” the resolution said. “In defiance and contrary to these directions and agreements, legislations were enacted by Punjab to deny the rightful claims of the State of Haryana,” it said.
The resolution urged the Centre to ensure that the proportion of Haryana government officials serving in Chandigarh UT continued as envisaged during the reorganisation of Punjab. This is supposed to be 60:40 for Punjab and Haryana. The resolution raised again the issue of transfer of Punjab’s Hindi-speaking areas to Haryana.
“The Indira Gandhi agreement, the Rajiv-Longowal accord and the Venkatramiah commission have accepted the claim of Haryana to Hindi speaking areas that fall within the territory of state of Punjab,” it said. Haryana's Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala said Chandigarh was, is and will remain the capital of the state.
Opposition Congress leaders said their party will support the state government if it decides to meet the President, prime minister and Haryana governor over the issue. “We will unitedly fight for protecting Haryana's rights,” Hooda said. But the party has taken contradictory stands in Punjab and Haryana. In the Punjab House just days earlier, Congress MLAs backed the immediate transfer of Chandigarh to that state.
The AAP, which hopes to establish its presence in Haryana as well in the next assembly elections, could face the same contradictions in the future.
Congress leader Raghuvir Singh Kadian said it is time for Haryana to fight a "do-or-die" battle for its rights. Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said the Punjab's resolution was a “political resolution”.
“Punjab's AAP government knows full well that the tall promises they made before the polls can never be fulfilled,” he said, claiming that the neighbouring state could face an economic crisis like that in Sri Lanka and the AAP government there was only trying to divert the people's attention. Indian National Lok Dal leader Abhay Singh Chautala said the BJP-led Haryana government had not made enough efforts on the SYL canal issue.