Delhi seeks SC direction to Haryana to release water flowing in from Himachal to crisis-hit capital

The national capital has been facing a severe water shortage and Water Minister Atishi has accused Haryana of not releasing Delhi's share of water.
Last Updated : 31 May 2024, 12:40 IST
Last Updated : 31 May 2024, 12:40 IST

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New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to Haryana to release surplus water provided by Himachal Pradesh to the parched national capital for urgent mitigation of its water woes compounded by scorching heat.

The plea, filed by Delhi’s Water Minister Atishi, has made the Centre, BJP-governed Haryana and Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh parties to the petition and said access to water is essential for survival and one of the basic human rights.

“Access to water is one of the basic human rights of an individual. Not only is water essential for sustenance, but access to water also forms an essential component of the guarantee of dignity and a quality of life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

“The current water crisis, which may only get worse given peak summers and ongoing water shortage, violates the right to a dignified and quality life of the people of the NCT of Delhi, who are unable to access even adequate clean drinking water,” the plea said.

It, according to sources, has sought a direction to the Haryana government “for immediate and continuous release of water at the Wazirabad barrage, including but not limited to the full surplus water provided by the Respondent No. 2 (Himachal Pradesh) for the National Capital Territory of Delhi, in order to mitigate the water crises in the NCT of Delhi.”

The city government said it was constrained to file the plea on account of acute shortage of water being faced by the citizens due to the ongoing severe heat conditions in north India, particularly Delhi.

“The record-high temperatures and heat wave in Delhi, which has resulted in maximum temperature rising up to around 50 degrees Celsius at some places, have caused an extraordinary and excessive surge in water demand in the city. As a result, the national capital is dealing with a water shortage which has led to frequent supply cuts in many parts of the NCT, and has disrupted the daily life of the ordinary residents,” the plea said.

The AAP government said it has taken all measures to ensure “optimisation, rationing and targeted” supply of water, yet, the shortage remains acute and it is clear, by all indicators, that the NCT of Delhi is in dire need of additional water”.

It said all treatment plants in the national capital are treating and supplying the water being sent, and to address the present crisis, it is necessary to augment water supply.

The city government said it has sought the direction as a one-time measure and not filed the plea for resolving any outstanding inter-state water dispute.

“The Petitioner is praying for the said relief of release of surplus water only as a stop-gap arrangement to remedy the current crisis till such time the monsoon season arrives and the temperature of the city goes down... thereby reverting the situation to normal,” it said.

Without prejudice to the inter-federal rights of Delhi, especially as a lower riparian state to shared water resources, the plea is filed only because of the unprecedented surge in temperature, which has triggered a surge in the demand for water, it said.

“Such excessive and unanticipated demand has precipitated an emergency in the form of a full-fledged water and sanitation crisis and has necessitated an emergent solution,” the plea said.

In order to deal with the demand in summer months, the Delhi government has devised a solution under which Himachal Pradesh has agreed to share its surplus water with Delhi, the petition said.

Since Himachal Pradesh does not share boundary with Delhi, the surplus water released by it has to be transported through the existing water channels in Haryana and released to Delhi at the Wazirabad barrage, it said, adding “Therefore, Haryana’s facilitation and cooperation, which is not being provided as on date, is imperative.”

“It is also necessary to point out that, presently, the water levels in the Sonia Vihar and Bhagirathi barrages, which constitute the other primary sources of water for the NCT of Delhi, are operating at their optimum level and meet the stipulated standards, therefore, any increase in water supply can only be considered at the Wazirabad barrage,” it said.

During the day, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged the BJP to ask its governments in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to provide water to the national capital for a month to ease the situation.

The national capital has been facing a severe water shortage and Water Minister Atishi has accused Haryana of not releasing Delhi's share of water.

Published 31 May 2024, 12:40 IST

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