NEW DELHI

Centre behind Punjab move, says water activist

JAIPUR, AUG. 1 . A water activist, who has been waging a "Jal Yuddha'' (battle for water) in the Aheerwal region of Haryana since 1991, today alleged that the Punjab Government had enacted the law terminating the water-sharing agreements with the neighbouring States recently on the instructions of the Congress leadership at the Centre.

"The Congress-led Government in the Centre does not want to comply with the Supreme Court's directions for construction of the Sutlej Yamuna link canal which would benefit Haryana and has found an easy scapegoat in the Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh,'' Raghu Yadav, who is also a member of Samajwadi Party, told reporters here.

Mr. Yadav claimed that the Centre's decision to make a Presidential reference to the apex court seeking its opinion on the validity of the Punjab law was an "exercise in disguise'' meant to delay the matter so that it could divest itself of the responsibility to construct the remaining portion of the link canal.

Mr. Yadav -- who unsuccessfully contested the recent Lok Sabha election as a Samajwadi Party candidate from Mahendragarh in Haryana -- said he would write a series of four books dealing with the whole gamut of distribution of river waters in the Indus basin falling in both India and Pakistan. The first book "Yamuna Ke Is Paar Se Sindhu Ke Us Paar'', dealing with the history of irrigation in Indus basin, has already been released. Rejecting Capt. Singh's contention that Punjab had no excess water to share with others, he said 3 million acre feet of water from Punjab was flowing into Pakistan due to the State's inability to utilise it. "Punjab's move is not only against the federal spirit of the Constitution, but its threat that the supply of waters to other States would revive terrorism is also an invitation to anarchy in the country.'' he said.

Mr. Yadav, a civil engineer by profession, said the Central Government should have rejected the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act -- instead of seeking the Supreme Court's opinion -- in the same way as it had discarded the resolutions of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and Legislative Council declaring autonomy in June 2000.

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