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In 1970, Centre decided to give Chandigarh to Punjab REPORTS TOI

September 05, 2019 06:33 AM


In 1970, Centre decided to give Chandigarh to Punjab


The Union government led by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had decided to give Chandigarh to Punjab in 1970, documents accessed by TOI have revealed. The Punjab and Haryana high court had in July asked the Punjab and Haryana governments for any documents that could explain that Chandigarh was made capital of both the states.

“After very carefully weighing the claims of the two states, the capital project area of Chandigarh should as a whole go to Punjab,” says a formal communication issued by the Union government on January 29, 1970. This decision was taken by the Union government almost three years after Haryana came into being as a separate state in November 1966.

The state of Haryana was told to use the office and residential accommodation in Chandigarh only for five years till it shifts to its own new capital. The Union government had then offered the Haryana government Rs 10 crore grant and an equal amount of loan for setting up its new capital.

The contentious issue regarding claim of both the states on Chandigarh reached the high court recently after a Chandigarh resident was not given benefit of quota under Scheduled Caste category by both the states of Punjab and Haryana. His main plea was that Chandigarh being the capital of both the states, he should also be considered for recruitment under SC quota in both these states. After this, the high court had asked both the states to come out with any notification/document that explained or showed Chandigarh as capital of both the states.

PDF of Article on Page 2 of New York Times edition of January 30, 1970 by Sydney H Schanberg with a New Delhi dateline

Centre considered various options to settle capital issue

After Punjab and Haryana governments failed to come up with any such document, the high court last week issued a notice to the central government.

The documents in possession of TOI have also revealed the then Indira Gandhi-led Union government had taken this decision after Fateh Singh, an activist of Punjab Suba movement, had threatened selfimmolation in case Chandigarh was not wholly transferred to Punjab as its capital. She had apprehended violence in Punjab on the issue of Chandigarh.

As per the documents, the Union government had also considered various alternatives for settling this matter, including the feasibility of dividing the Chandigarh city. However, it was observed that Chandigarh is a planned city which was built to serve as capital of a single larger state.

“The government, therefore, came to the conclusion that it will not be in the interest of the people of Chandigarh or of either of the two states to divide the city. Accordingly, after very carefully weighing the claims of the two states they have decided that the capital project area of Chandigarh should as a whole go to Punjab. The Government of India hopes that the state (Haryana) government will soon select a suitable site for its capital and start construction. However, the construction of a new capital will necessarily take some years,” the Union government had observed in 1970.

As per the documents, the Union of India on January 29, 1970, while announcing to give Chandigarh to Punjab, had decided that Hindi-speaking part of the Fazilka tehsil of Ferozepur district in Punjab should be transferred to Haryana.

“For providing contiguity between this area and the rest of Haryana, a strip of territory will also be transferred to Haryana. Haryana will get Rs 20 crore (as grant and loan) for building their capital. The government of Haryana will continue to use office and residential accommodation in Chandigarh for a period not exceeding five years,” said a communique issued by the press information bureau (PIB) in 1970.

A copy of government’s announcements in this regard were later placed in the Parliament library in February 1970 by the ministry of home affairs. A letter placing on record the Union government’s statement on Chandigarh was sent to Lok Sabha secretariat for official record by N C Sareen, the then deputy secretary, MHA

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