Millennium Post

Common capital furore

The city of Chandigarh is the common Capital of Punjab and Haryana and now the historical city of Hyderabad is going to be the common capital of the new state of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Will the Nizam’s majestic city face the similar dilemma experienced by Chandigarh, the modern city with a progressive outlook? The capital city of Punjab and Haryana and a Union Territory, Chandigarh is still forced to take note of the claims and counter claims over its ownership.

The beautiful city of Chandigarh was developed to house the Capital of the then Punjab after India achieved independence.  A modern well planned city as conceptualised by Le- Corbusier, came up in the territory of Ambala District. The site was almost at the centre of the State of Punjab.  Chandigarh spread over an area of 114 square km in the Shivalik foothills and was the most clean and green city with wonderful architecture. The feud over the future of Chandigarh has not yet been resolved between the states.

It was declared the common Capital of Punjab and Haryana upon the bifurcation of Punjab with the Hindi speaking part designated as Haryana on 1st November, 1966.  The Union government promised assistance of thousands of crores for constructing its new capital over a period of ten years or so. Even after a period of more than four and a half decades the issue remains unresolved and both the states are still pitching for a fight over this issue. The bifurcation was effected as per the recommendations of Shah Commission after agitations in both parts of the united state.  The impending status of Chandigarh diluted the level of celebrations in both the states as both were strongly claiming their natural right over the modern city of Chandigarh as their capital. 

The tension between the two states touched the new heights number of times. Once, a proposal was mooted to divide the city of Chandigarh between Punjab and Haryana. As per another proposal the entire city was suggested to be given to Punjab and Chandigarh Railway Station along with nearby localities to Haryana. A popular slogan, ‘Chandigarh Hamara hai, Sare ka sara hai’, used to roar in Haryana during those days.  It may be recalled that access of Haryana through road route to its capital Chandigarh is not direct as the buses after passing through the villages in its Ambala District has to travel through certain towns of Punjab to reach Chandigarh. During tensions in the states over the fate of Chandigarh, Haryana was told to avoid the road route passing through Punjab towns like Zirakpur and others. The then Haryana CM, Bansi Lal was forced to develop an alternate route via Morni in Ambala district to provide an access to Chandigarh without passing through towns in Punjab.  The alternate route was lengthy and was used during few months during escalated hostility. 

It as also rumored that Haryana would ultimately develop Morni hills as its Capital.
During agitations over Chandigarh in both states, there were instances of observing fast onto death and counter fast in the states. Darshan Singh Pheruman – an 84 year old, went on a fast demanding inclusion of all Punjabi speaking areas including Chandigarh into Punjab.  He died on the 74th day of his indefinite fast on 27th October, 1969 in the Central Jail, Amritsar. Another man, Uday Singh Mann was said to have observed an indefinite fast demanding inclusion of Chandigarh in Haryana at Chhotu Ram Park, Rohtak and ended his fast on getting an assurance on the matter. The issue over the claim and counter claim over Chandigarh is still alive.

The recent outburst by Haryana CM over the proposed development of a New Chandigarh at Mullapur in the territory of Punjab by the state government is enough to convey the gravity of hatred in the two states. Haryana is not able to digest the naming of the newly developed city as New Chandigarh. It has been claiming an absolute right over the capital city of Chandigarh as it came within the territory of the Ambala district which is presently part of the state.  Punjab is keen to name the new city as ‘New Chandigarh’ as it has been maintaining its sole right over the common capital.  The issue is yet to be buried down.

As the city of Hyderabad gets the status of common capital of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for the next 10 years, it is likely that the status quo may continue for a longer period keeping in view the experiences of Haryana and Punjab. Will the historical city, face the similar friction. Its local self government is the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation with 18 circles and 150 wards. The twin city of Secunderabad is separated by Hussain Sagar.  Meanwhile a demand to declare Hyderabad as a UT has also risen.        
The author is a communication consultant
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