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SC Directs HP to Release 137 Cusecs Water for Delhi on Friday, Orders Haryana to Give Passage

SC Directs HP to Release 137 Cusecs Water for Delhi on Friday, Orders Haryana to Give Passage

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NEW DELHI, June 6: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the release of 137 cusecs of surplus water from upstream Himachal Pradesh through Hathnikund barrage in Haryana into Wazirabad barrage to solve Delhi’s current drinking water crisis.

A Vacation Bench of Justices P.K. Mishra and K.V. Viswanathan passed the order after perusing the minutes of a meeting held by the Upper Yamuna River Board with the States of Delhi, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh along with the Centre.

The meeting held on Wednesday saw the Board acknowledge the acute shortage of drinking water in the national capital in the middle of a heatwave across the northern States. Himachal said it could spare an additional supply of 137 cusecs to the capital.

However, Haryana, through which the water has to pass to reach Delhi, raised objections. Haryana insisted in court that Himachal Pradesh did not have any water to spare for Delhi. The State said it too was going through a water crisis.

“But Delhi is not asking you (Haryana) to give water… The water has to come from Himachal Pradesh and not Haryana,” Justice Mishra reacted. Justice Viswanathan said Haryana needed to only give the water the “right of passage”.

Himachal Pradesh, represented by Additional Advocate General Vaibhav Shrivastava, said the State was “ready and willing” to help Delhi in its hour of dire need. Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, for Delhi, said Haryana’s objection was nothing short of “cussedness and obstructionist.” He said the State was “playing politics.” Delhi needed the 136 cusecs of water to help it through the current month of crisis, no more.

“This is a serious problem. You (Haryana) has to only give right to passage. Himachal is giving the water,” Justice Viswanathan told the Haryana counsel. The Bench ordered Himachal Pradesh to release 137 cusecs of surplus water on Friday.

The court directed that Haryana should be given prior intimation about the release of the water so that it could facilitate its flow into Delhi. It said the Upper Yamuna River Board and Haryana could measure the water released from Himachal Pradesh to see if the quantity was really 137 cusecs. The court made it clear that the Delhi government should ensure that there was no wastage of water through leaks or in other ways, whatsoever.

In a previous hearing on June 3, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who had appeared for both the Centre and Haryana, had alleged that over 50% of the water reaching Delhi was diverted into the hands of the tanker mafia or “lost.”

“If 100 litres come to Delhi, 48.65 litres reach the residents. The total water loss is 52.35%. Where does it go? Into the hands of the tanker mafia… You (Delhi government) have to tighten up,” Mr Mehta had alleged. The Delhi government had moved the Supreme Court, highlighting the acute water scarcity faced by the capital’s citizens as temperatures soared above the 50 degree Celsius mark.

(Manas Dasgupta)


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