Water, power crises dog AAP in Delhi

In times when farmers in drought-hit states face crop failure and people trudge miles for potable water every day, Delhiites shouldn’t be grumbling. But the Delhi government and the Centre should be warned that grumble they shall if the dire predictions being made in some quarters about water and power shortages this summer come true. For about a day recently, several localities went without water after a sharp drop in supply to the city, blamed on the declining level of water in the Yamuna and a brief closure of Haryana’s Munak canal due to a drowning accident. Also in recent days, there have been reports that Uttar Pradesh wanted to reduce the supply of water to Delhi, and there was alarm over decreasing pond levels at Tehri Dam in Uttarakhand and Hathnikund Barrage in Haryana.

Things have improved since then, thanks partly to some rain in catchment areas. Delhi Jal Board officials say the shortages were temporary. But it’s a long way to go yet before the summer is over, and Delhi, which relies on neighbouring states for most of its water, needs to use the resource judiciously. The Aam Aadmi Party government’s free water scheme might contribute to the cause: it encourages people to use less as water is free for households which keep the consumption under 20,000 litres per month. However, the Arvind Kejriwal government may find that its offer to supply 10 lakh litres of water daily to a parched Latur may not go down well. The City’s aam aadmi would like his own share first. Along with the possibility of a water shortage, Delhi also faced a threat last week of power blackouts. National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) warned two Reliance Infra power distribution companies that it would suspend the supply of over 2,000 mw of electricity to them from May 10, if they did not clear their bills totalling Rs 1,300 crore. The discoms say they are short of cash and are pleading for a substantial hike in tariff – something which the Kejriwal government vehemently opposes. Thankfully, NTPC pulled back from that extreme position and the crisis has been averted. But the issue needs to be sorted out, or it is bound to resurface again. The Kejriwal government has talked about acquiring a coal block to fuel a big private power plant to take care of the city’s needs. But these are long-term solutions, at best. Till these ‘alternatives’ are put in place, Kejriwal and his team would need to deftly manage such recurring crises. And
this summer, they should keep their fingers crossed.

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