Updated: February 26, 2021 2:10:09 am
A month-long closure this summer of a water channel that caters to 25% of Delhi’s potable water supply will create a crisis in the national capital, Delhi Jal Board (DJB) vice-chairman Raghav Chadha said Thursday.
Speaking at the Delhi Secretariat, Chadha said a “blind” or full closure of the Nangal Hydel Channel from March 25 to April 24 by the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), a central government agency, would cut off 232 million gallons per day (MGD) of water that Delhi receives from the Ravi and Beas rivers.
He said Delhi’s water demand increases to around 1,200 MGD in the summer months, whereas the DJB maintains water supply at around 935 MGD.
“We wrote a letter on February 19 informing the central government, Haryana government and BBMB that the citizens of Delhi are fully dependent on this 232 MGD water. We have requested that in such an important time, this repair work should not happen and they should do this when water supply will be enough,” Chadha said.
“In such a time, if Delhi faces 25% reduced water supply, then several national and international institutions of importance will also suffer from the water crisis. This includes the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the residence of the Prime Minister, the Supreme Court of India, the High Court of Delhi, National Green Tribunal and the embassies,” he added.
The BBMB is an agency engaged in regulating water and power supply from Bhakra Nangal and Beas projects to Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Chandigarh. It is chaired by Sanjay Srivastava, chief engineer of the Central Electricity Authority, and has members from the Ministry of Power, Jal Shakti, and governments of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.
A DJB official said, “No such major closure has happened at least in the last five years. Minor closures keep happening but nothing that can have such a significant impact on water supply.”
Supply from Ravi and Beas rivers and also the Yamuna is provided to Delhi through the Munak Canal from Haryana, which gets water from the Nangal Hydel Channel or the Bhakra Main Line (BML).
A letter dated February 12 by Haryana’s chief engineer of the irrigation and water resources department said the BBMB was planning a “blind/partial” closure in the channel for repair and maintenance.
“You are requested to convey the proposed closure of BML and other carrier system falling in your jurisdiction to all end users and local authority for making arrangement of drinking water during the proposed closure period…,” the letter said.
In reply, the DJB member (water supply) said in a letter dated February 19 that an alternative arrangement for Delhi should be made if water supply from BBMB is to be stopped for a month. “Delhi is already having a shortage of drinking water… any further curtailment, particularly during peak summer period of March to June, will adversely affect drinking water supply in Delhi, thereby creating a huge crisis,” it said.
“It is requested to make an alternative arrangement of raw water… through Western Yamuna Canal or River Yamuna or alternatively may reschedule repair work in BML during the monsoon period when adequate flow is available in the Yamuna,” the letter added.
Chadha also said the DJB has requested for a meeting of all stakeholders, which should be called by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, to discuss the issue and present their points.
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