The Central government’s decision of adopting a new criterion for selecting members of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), has evoked sharp criticism from political circles in Punjab and Haryana.
Opposing the move, Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal and Aam Aadmi Party leaders have termed the decision as a direct attack on the rights of Punjab and Haryana.
Former Haryana Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the abolition of the permanent membership of Punjab and Haryana in the BBMB was an attack on the rights of Haryana. “According to the Bhakra Beas Management Board Rules, 1974, the member (power) in BBMB was from Punjab and the member (irrigation) was from Haryana. But in the amended rules of 2022, this requirement has been done away with. Under the amended rules, the criteria for the selection of members have also been defined in such a way that the electricity departments of Haryana and Punjab cannot meet the criteria,” he said.
Mr. Hooda said there has been a reduction in the posts available from Haryana quota in BBMB in the past as well, due to the neglect of the BJP-JJP government. “All the political parties of Punjab, including the Congress, are unanimous and raising their voice against this decision to protect the interest of the State. In such a situation, the Haryana government, along with all the parties, should oppose this decision and protect the rights of the state,” he added. Congress leader and its national general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala also hit out at the BJP, saying the Centre’s move was a direct attack on the federal structure and the rights of the States.
BBMB is engaged in the regulation of the supply of water and electricity from Bhakra Nangal and Beas Projects to the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Chandigarh.
In Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the new rules notified by the Ministry of Power to tweak the appointment norms for members of the BBMB was “a frighteningly grave development fraught with serious consequences for the state of Punjab.”
“The fact of the matter is that as per the law of the country, precedents and the prevailing practices, the control of Satluj Beas headworks belongs exclusively to Punjab as a Riparian state. But first, they unconstitutionally took that control away from us and now they are shutting Punjab completely out of the BBMB. This is the height of injustice against us. This is also another instance of the federal principle has been outraged repeatedly by governments at the Center. We will fight it with all the might at our disposal.” he said.
Congress’s former Punjab president Sunil Jakhar said the tweaked BBMB rules are detrimental of Punjab, urging Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi to take up the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Alarming developments in last few days. Punjab being systematically stripped off its claim over Chandigarh and say in BBMB,” he said.
Lok Sabha MP and Aam Aadmi Party’s Punjab president Bhagwant Mann also termed the move as yet another attack on the rights of Punjab.