As Delhi stares at a possible water crises, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday wrote to his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar and Lt Governor Anil Baijal requesting them to maintain the current level of water supply to avoid an “unprecedented situation”. In another letter to Baijal, Kejriwal requested him to use good offices to pursuade Haryana to continue the supply of same level of water and also take up the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Kejriwal’s move came a day after the Haryana government assured the Supreme Court that it would maintain status quo on supply of the Yamuna river water to the national capital till May 21 and would decide on the Delhi government’s proposed request to continue the supply. In his letter to Baijal, the chief minister said if Haryana reduces water supply from May 21, it could lead to an “unprecedented situation” and water shortage in the national capital.
“Disruption in water supply from Haryana would affect Chandrawal Water Treatment Plant, which supplies water to the VIP areas of Delhi, including Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament, embassies of various countries and other major establishments,” Kejriwal said. He stated in his letter that Delhi has been receiving 1,133 cusecs of water from Haryana since 1996, but for the first time, the state has contested Delhi’s claim.
Kejriwal claimed that the apex court has directed Haryana to maintain status quo till May 21 and asked Delhi to approach the Upper Yamuna River Board. In the letter to Khattar, Kejriwal said that Delhi has been facing shortage of drinking water supply from December 30 last year, first because of increased pollution levels at Wazirabad and from April 2 on account of reduced water release through Diversion Drain-8/river Yamuna.
“This has led to Wazirabad pond not being filled up to the desired level due to which drinking water production has been affected at Wazirabad and Chandrawal Water Treatment Plants. Supply of water through Delhi Sub Branch and Carrier Line Channel is reduced by 100 cusecs,” he said.
In the letter, Kejriwal told Khattar that water demand peaks during summer months in May and June up to 20 per cent which makes water rationalisation in distribution difficult. On Wednesday, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) told the Supreme Court that they would withdraw their petition filed in the apex court in the matter and approach the Upper Yamuna River Board (UYRB) immediately for continuance of release of drinking water to national capital.
The court asked Haryana to expeditiously decide on Delhi’s request, saying the issue involves water for drinking purposes and not for irrigation. “Counsel for the state of Haryana says that a decision will be taken on the request but regardless of the decision taken by the state government, the status quo will maintain till May 21, 2018. Needless to say, the state of Haryana will take an independent decision,” the court said yesterday.