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Even as a debate raged over Haryana Agriculture Minister Om Prakash Dhankar’s “open letter” to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal threatening to “no longer provide water to Delhi”, a calmness prevailed in Water Resources Minister Kapil Mishra’s office Friday. Mishra, and almost everyone in the CM’s office, dismissed the letter as “lame” and “ineffectual”.
Kejriwal drew Dhankar’s ire after he clarified during a tour of Punjab that he stood against the construction of the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal as “Punjab did not have enough water to share with other states”.
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Eyeing much relief after the opening of the SYL, Haryana ministers were quick to slam Kejriwal.
“Haryana provides 0.2 million acre-feet water to Delhi by its main line canal which reaches Delhi through the Narwana branch of the West Yamuna canal system. Due to this burden borne for Delhi, Haryana could not get its share of 496 cusecs of water. In addition to this, Haryana also supplies 330 cusec water from the Yamuna canal to Delhi,” Dhankar wrote in the letter that was posted on his official Twitter handle Wednesday.
“Seeing your stand (opposing the construction of SYL canal in Punjab), Haryana will not be able to deliver your share of water in Delhi since you have stood against the interests of the farmers and people of Haryana. For Delhi’s water requirement, please build your own separate canal from Nangal Dam to Tajewala, so that Delhi gets water from your efforts.”
The letter, expected to create ripples in the Delhi government, has been dismissed by ministers. “The letter means nothing… it is absolutely ineffectual. This is an attempt to divert public attention from the internal troubles in the Haryana government. Their government is falling apart and the best way to divert attention was to write something this ridiculous. The Yamuna is no one’s private property and if water is being channeled through a canal that runs across Haryana to reach Delhi, what we are drawing is on a Supreme Court directive and not a personal favour,” said Mishra.
“Will Dhankar actually disrupt water supply to Delhi and inconvenience the Prime Minister and the President? Let us see if he manages to do that.”
Mishra’s response comes weeks after the acute water crisis following damage to the Munak Canal. “I can assure residents in Delhi that their taps will not run dry. At least not on account of this minister’s letter,” he said.
Delhi draws roughly 1,200 cusecs of water from Haryana through the Munak Canal and the Western Yamuna Canal Main Line. Together they make for 70 per cent of Delhi’s water supply.
The remaining comes from Uttar Pradesh. Officials said the government had roughly invested Rs 1,500 crore on the construction of the Munak Canal and the Haryana government has little control over disrupting supply.