Akalis decide to oppose Inter State River Water Disputes Bill

Akalis decide to oppose Inter State River Water Disputes Bill

Agency News

New Delhi, Aug 4: In a crucial political developments within BJP-led NDA combine, a key ally Akali Dal on Sunday decided to oppose the Inter State River Water Disputes Amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha if it is pressed in present form.

"Shiromani Akali Dal observes the Inter State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill 2019 as against the interest of Punjab," tweeted party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal after a core committee meeting here. "The SAD core committee today resolved that the party, as in the past, would always safeguard the interests of waters of Punjab by any means," Mr Badal wrote.

The Bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha and is expected to be brought in the Rajya Sabha in next three days of the remaining part of the Budget session of Parliament. Mr Badal's wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal is a cabinet minister in the Modi government holding the portfolio of Food Processing Industry.

"The Shiromani Akali Dal will apprise the PM Narendra Modiji and Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat tomorrow (on Monday) about the gravity of the situation and urge them not to press this Bill in Rajya Sabha in the present form as it will further jeopardize the interest of Punjab," Sukhbir Badal wrote in another missive tagging the Tweet to both Modi and Shekhawat.

The draft law seeking to expedite and streamline the resolution of inter-state water disputes was approved by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

The Akali leaders at the core committee meeting discussed in detail about the Bill and resolved that its passage will only result in a "grave injustice" to the people of Punjab, an Akali Dal source said here. The party leaders felt the Bill would not help the aggrieved people of Punjab if passed in the present form but could further jeopardize the water rights of the state.

The Bill seeks to amend the Inter State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 to streamline the adjudication of inter-state river water disputes. Under the provisions of the Bill, when a state puts in a request regarding any water dispute, the central government will set up a Disputes Resolution Committee (DRC), to resolve the dispute.

Several opposition parties during the debate in the Lok Sabha have said that the Bill was against the federal structure of the constitution - a charge denied vehemently by BJP MPs and also the Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. (UNI)