Punjab seeks fresh tribunal to relook at water sharing arrangements

New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) Punjab on Friday urged the Supreme Court to refuse to answer the Presidential reference on the validity of the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act, 2004, saying it was not obligated to go into it.

Punjab also told the constitution bench headed by Justice Anil R.Dave that the only way out of the current impasse was setting up a fresh tribunal to consider different dimensions of the matter including decline in the flow of the water and the rights of the riparian States.

Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the state, said that the plea for setting up a fresh tribunal was not a new one but was raised way back in 2003 well before the state assembly had passed 2004 act during the tenure of the then Congress government led by Capt Amarinder Singh.

He told the court that Punjab had sought the fresh tribunal to review the Longowal agreement of 1981 on sharing the river water in view of the falling flow of the water and other factors, and that Punjab had moved the apex court again in 2015 which was still pending hearing.

Punjab also contested Rajasthan’s submission that its assembly had no right to terminate the river water sharing agreement affecting the rights of other states with Jethmalani arguing that the Punjab assembly had every right to legislate a law, though it would not be binding on other states.

He said that even otherwise under the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, every agreement had to be reviewed after a gap taking into account falling flow of the river water and other circumstances.

Punjab’s submission came in the course of the hearing of a Presidential reference on the validity of its act blocking the supply of Sutlej-Yamuna water to Haryana.

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