U-turn by AAP government on Punjab-Haryana water row

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New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) In a U-turn, Delhi’s AAP government on Monday sought to distance itself from the previous Congress government’s opposition to the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act, brought in 2004 by then Congress government in Punjab to deny Haryana its share of water from Ravi and Beas rivers.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government told the constitution bench of Justice Anil R.Dave, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Amitava Roy that the position stated before the court earlier by the counsel Suresh Chandra Tripathi opposing the 2004 Punjab law was without its authorisation.

Appearing for Delhi government, senior counsel C.U. Singh told the constitution bench that AAP government has withdrawn Tripathi as its counsel and would like to place before the bench its fresh statement giving its new position on the dispute.

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The constitution bench said that it would consider the plea only after the Delhi government files a fresh application along with an affidavit backing it.

The apparent change in the Delhi government’s position is seen as a part of AAP’s plan to strengthen its chances in Punjab, where assembly polls are scheduled for February 2017.

Meanwhile appearing for Punjab, senior counsel Harish Salve reiterated the state’s position that the presidential reference on the validity of the Punjab act was no solution of river water sharing dispute.

Telling the bench that the agreement was not cast in stone, Salve said that it was subject to review under the changed circumstance particularly in view of the decline in the flow of water in river Ravi and Beas.

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He reiterated the Pubjab stand for referring the entire matter for fresh adjudication by the tribunal that would look into the matter in its entirety in view of shortfall in flow of water in two rivers.

The apex court is hearing a presidential reference on the validity of the Punjab act which was enacted to block the supply of Sutlej-Yamuna water to Haryana.

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