Chandigarh : Asserting that water is our legitimate right as per Riparian law, the Punjab assembly led Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Wednesday condemned the act of Himachal Pradesh government to impose Water cess on hydropower projects.
Endorsing the resolution passed by the Water Resources Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer to condemn the move of Himachal Pradesh government, the Chief Minister said that it is a major setback for the interests of Punjab and its people.
He said contrary to its name- Punjab (the land of five rivers) is today facing serious challenges in terms of potable water. Bhagwant Mann said that the fresh move of Himachal Pradesh government is a fresh attack on the waters of the state which cannot be tolerated.
Taking the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh to cudgels, the Chief Minister categorically said that this move of the Sukhu government is illegitimate and irrational. He said that Punjab has legitimate right over the river waters and no one can snatch it from the state.
Bhagwant Mann said that the state will not pay even a single penny for the water flowing through its land. The Chief Minister said that this move of Congress government is aimed at dividing the country adding that this is not ‘Bharat Jodo’ but it is ‘Bharat Todo’ campaign.
He also questioned the absence of the Congress leaders of Punjab from the assembly when the state was deliberating a serious issue concerning the waters of the state. Bhagwant Mann said that these leaders have always backstabbed Punjab but the state government will leave no stone unturned to solve all the issues being confronted by Punjab.
The Chief Minister said that this shameless act of the Himachal Pradesh government has exposed that Congress has several faces and they use these masks as per their political convenience. He said that the Congress leaders make tall claims about federal structure but in real terms they act as per their own political interests.
Bhagwant Mann said that this time again congress has hatched a conspiracy to divest Punjab of its rights but this will not be allowed at any cost. The Chief Minister advised the Himachal Pradesh government to refrain from taking such steps which will dilute the powers of the states.
He said that the centre already wants a chance to meddle in the affairs of the states adding that by racking up such issues the Himachal Pradesh government is giving a chance to the Union government to unnecessarily intervene in matters pertaining to the state.
Bhagwant Mann also said that if the Congress government goes ahead with this plan then with what face they will make claims for federal structure in the country. Highlighting the plight of state water, the Chief Minister said that the majority of blocks in the state are in extreme dark zones due to depletion of ground water tables.
He said that the hard working and resilient farmers of the state have produced paddy for the country by overexploiting water- the only available natural resource in the state. However, Bhagwant Mann said that instead of recognizing the immense contribution of the state such plans are being made to rob the interests of the state.
The Chief Minister said that the situation is so miserable that the district which is even at the centre of the state falls on the tail end of canal water. He said that on one hand the state government is making concerted efforts for development of the state and on the other hand the forces inimical to state are taking such steps.
Bhagwant Mann assured the house that the state government will leave no stone unturned for safeguarding the interests of the state at any cost.