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Himachal tells SC it doesn't have surplus water, court asks Delhi govt to approach Yamuna board

The court noted the very basis of its order passed on June 6 to Himachal Pradesh to supply 137 cusecs of water to the national capital does not hold as an 'incorrect statement' was made by the Himalayan state on the availability of extra water.
Last Updated : 13 June 2024, 08:23 IST

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Delhi government to approach the Upper Yamuna River Board, a technical body, with its plea for a direction to Haryana and Himachal Pradesh to supply additional water on humanitarian grounds to the national capital, reeling under water shortage amid severe heatwave conditions.

The court noted the very basis of its order passed on June 6 to Himachal Pradesh to supply 137 cusecs of water to the national capital does not hold as an "incorrect statement" was made by the Himalayan state on the availability of extra water.

A bench of Justices Prashant Kumar Mishra and Prasanna Bhalachandra Varale also allowed Himachal Pradesh to withdraw its statement made before the top court that it could supply an additional 137 cusecs of water to Delhi.

The Haryana government and the Centre, led by senior advocate Shyam Divan and Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, also submitted that the Board could resolve the issue as the court does not have necessary expertise on the subject.

"The issue is complex and sensitive. This court does not have the expertise to decide even on an interim basis. The matter can be considered by the body constituted by the MoU between the parties in 1994," the bench said.

The bench said if such an application is made by Delhi, UYRB shall convene a meeting on Friday and call the parties and take a decision at the earliest.

The court also pulled up Himachal Pradesh for its previous statement on the availability of extra water.

"We are back to square one," the bench said.

"In such a serious and sensitive matter, how can you make such a casual statement," the bench asked the Advocate General of Himachal Pradesh.

The court noted when Haryana requested Himachal Pradesh to inform about the release of 137 cusecs, the latter said on June 6 that the unutilised water was already flowing to the Hathini kund barrage.

"When we made a pointed query to HP as to how they would reconcile the statement, the AG submitted that the earlier statement was incorrect and requested to be permitted to withdraw the statement," the bench said.

Earlier, arguing for Delhi in the writ petition, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi highlighted the short-term and temporary need for additional water, arising due to heatwave conditions in the national capital. He also sought to address the queries made on the last occasion regarding water pilferage and loss.

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Published 13 June 2024, 08:23 IST

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