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Why Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal stake claim to Chandigarh?

After Home Minister Amit Shah’s announcement of bringing Chandigarh administration employees under the ambit of the central government, the debate over whether the Union Territory is a part of Punjab, Haryana or Himachal has come to the fore again.

The Punjab Reorganisation Act is again in the news after Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday announced that the government staffers in the Union Territory of Chandigarh will be considered as Central Government employees from Monday, March 28.

After the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) appointment controversy, the latest announcement has seemingly stirred up discontent in Punjab, with political parties alleging that the Union government is trying to infringe on the rights of the people of Punjab.

Successive Punjab governments have been claiming that Chandigarh was an integral part of Punjab. The claim, according to politicians in Punjab, was justified by the Rajiv Longowal Accord of 1985.

Akali Dal feels that the move was an attempt to ‘dilute’ Punjab’s right to the capital as till Sunday, the UT’s employees were being governed by the Punjab Civil Services Rules.

The Punjab Reorganisation Act was passed on September 18, 1966, to provide for the reorganisation of the existing state of Punjab. This act came into existence after the formation of the states of Punjab and Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh and the subsequent transfer of the hill areas to Himachal Pradesh.

According to senior Akali Dal leader Daljit Singh Cheema, the Punjab Reorganisation Act stipulates that 60% of Chandigarh employees will be from Punjab and the remaining 40% will be from Haryana.

Chandigarh, as per Congress leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira, is a “disputed territory”.

‘CHANDIGARH PART OF AMBALA’

Besides Punjab, Haryana has also been staking claim to Chandigarh on the basis of the same Act. “Chandigarh belonged to Haryana and will always be a part of Haryana,” former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said.

Haryana politicians say that Chandigarh was part of the Ambala district and is an inseparable part of Haryana.

HIMACHAL CITES SC JUDGMENT

Interestingly, it is not just Punjab and Haryana but Himachal Pradesh as well that has been claiming its share of Chandigarh on the basis of a Supreme Court judgment delivered on September 27, 2011. The order stated that Himachal Pradesh was entitled to get 7.19% of Chandigarh’s land on the basis of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.

Himachal Chief Minister Jay Ram Thakur has also been claiming that the state was entitled to get 7.19% of the power being generated from Bhakra Nangal Power Project with effect from November 1996. “The state should get its legitimate share in Chandigarh” Jai Ram Thakur said.

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