Pritam Singh Kumedan, an expert on inter-state water disputes, has written to the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal pointing out that since Haryana is a non-riparian state, the water dispute with it cannot be included in the Inter State Water Disputes Act 1956, which caters to only riparian states.
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Giving pointers to the CM on how to address the issue of Supreme Court’s advice on the Presidential reference over the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act 2004, Kumedan says the Punjab must write to the President saying that the SC has not given specific advice on the questions raised in the reference. “The advice tendered by the Honourable Court appears to be advice on a hypothetical question/reference which was never referred to the SC for advice,” he says in his letter.
Elaborating on the issue of Section 14 of the Inter State Water Disputes Act 1956 and Section 78 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act 1956, Kumedan maintains that Punjab’s contention should be that Section 78 is a carbon copy of Section 68 of Andhra State Act 1953 and has been inserted in the Punjab Reorganisation Act 1966 without any application of mind. “While in the case of Andhra State Act both the parties to the dispute, Andhra and Mysore state, were riparian states, in the case of Punjab, Haryana state had ceased to be a riparian of Ravi and Beas,” he said.
He also argues that as per Section 78, all successor states viz. Punjab, haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh have got a share in the rights and liabilities of Bhakra Bangal project and Beas Project but only Punjab and Haryana were made parts while Himachal and Chandigarh were completely ignored and therefore the notification in this regard dated March 24, 1976 is null and void. He also said that Rajasthan was made part to the Punjab Reorganisation Act despite it being a rank outsider and was made party with some ulterior motive and hence this agreement is null and void.
In his missive to the CM, Kumedan has also referred to the SC advice taking note of its judgement in the case of State of Tamil Nadu Vs State of Kerala regarding the height of Mullaperiyar Dam where the SC had ordered the height of the dam to be raised from 136 feet to 142 feet. “Punjab’s submission is that the State of Tamil Nadu case is not applicable and the Punjab Termination of Agreements act 2004 is substantially legislative and is entirely different from Tamil Nadu case,” he says.
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