First territory, now Punjab, Haryana spar over names (Letter from Chandigarh)

By Jaideep Sarin, bChandigarh, June 27 : What's in a name? Plenty, when it comes to Punjab and Haryana. For the last 47 years, the two states have been engaged in a war of words on territory. Now, this has taken on a different connotation - over names.

In the latest instance, Haryana has raised serious objection to Punjab coming up with a new town in close proximity to Chandigarh and naming it New Chandigarh.

The new town, where big ticket realtors like DLF Omaxe and several others have already lapped up prime land - agricultural fields till not long ago - and started their housing and commercial projects, will come up where the Punjab village of Mullanpur Garibdas once stood. The land owners of Mullanpur Garibdas have become millionaires by selling their land.

Disapproving the Punjab government's decision to rename Mullanpur Garibdas as New Chandigarh, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has termed it "unethical". His logic?

"The chemistry of Chandigarh cannot be changed. If today I rename Gurgaon as Newly-Born Delhi or Modern Delhi, what will it mean? It is not ethical. It is for the Punjab chief minister to decide," an upset Hooda said.

New Chandigarh is located northwest of Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, near Panjab University and the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).

Asked if he would take up the issue with the Punjab government, Hooda said he had expressed his views on the issue on different platforms. "It is for the Punjab government to take a call (on this)," he added.

It is not just the name that has become a bone of contention between the two states.

With the Chandigarh airport being expanded on the Mohali side in Punjab to convert it into an international facility, Haryana has resisted the Punjab government's attempts to rename it Mohali International Airport.

Hooda stood his ground with the union civil aviation ministry to get the airport named Bhagat Singh Airport, Chandigarh.

Even when the civil aviation ministry was set to sign an agreement with the Punjab government for expanding the airport, Hooda had intervened just a few hours before the inking of the pact. So, instead of the bilateral agreement between the ministry and the Punjab government it became a tripartite agreement to also include Haryana.

Hooda has also been insisting on a separate high court for Haryana to be located in Chandigarh itself. The union law ministry is yet to give its green signal for this.

At present, Chandigarh has the Punjab and Haryana High Court for the two states.

Chandigarh, a 114 sq.km union territory, has been the joint capital of the two states since Nov 1, 1966, when Haryana was carved out of Punjab. For long, there had been talk of building a new capital for Haryana but this has now petered out.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

--IANS (Posted on 27-06-2013)

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