The Delhi High Court on Wednesday disapproved of Haryana's "conduct" of asking the Delhi government to withdraw its pleas for protecting the water supply from the state as a pre-condition for considering the release of water to the city. The Delhi government claimed that in the Upper Yamuna River Board meeting of April 18 Haryana had asked it to first withdraw all cases on the water issue from the courts here and then it will consider the release of water to Delhi.
Taking note of the averment, a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice A J Bhambhani, said: "Your (Haryana) conduct is reflected in the minutes of the meeting. Why did you ask for the withdrawal of the plea?" The bench made it clear there should be no disruption or reduction in the amount of water being supplied to the national capital in accordance with an undertaking given by Haryana before the court in December 2014.
Haryana has to release 719 cusecs of water per day into Munak canal here and 330 cusecs per day in Delhi Sub Branch Canal, according to the undertaking and earlier court orders. The high court also said that water being supplied to the Wazirabad treatment plant, which caters to most of central Delhi including Lutyen's zone, should continue in the same quantities as was being done in the past.
The bench also appointed a committee, headed by retired high court judge Justice Indermeet Kaur and including amicus curiae Rakesh Khanna, to inspect whether 'bunds' have been put in the canals carrying water meant for the Wazirabad plant as claimed by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) in its plea. The court asked the committee to submit its report before the next date of hearing on May 20 and added that further action will be taken based on the panel's findings.
The order came on DJB's application which claimed that it wanted to withdraw all its earlier pleas for protecting water supply to the national capital as Haryana has made it a pre-condition for considering release of water to Delhi. DJB, represented by senior advocate Parag Tripathi, said the national capital faces extreme shortage of water during the summer months of May-June and if Haryana does not release water, to the tune of around 1133 cusecs, then citizens of Delhi will have a tough time. He also showed the court pictures of 'bunds' being put in the DD-8 canal which carries water meant for the Wazirabad plant. Haryana, in its defence, said that there is already a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court with regard to 'bunds' being put on the canal.
It also said that the 'bunds' were 200 kilometers away from the Delhi-Haryana border. The bench, however, did not accept the contention and said the committee will inspect "whether the 'bunds' are 200 km or 20 metres away from the border" and would they "impact the supply of water to the national capital". The DJB application was filed in a PIL by lawyer S B Tripathi seeking sufficient water supply for Delhi. It had earlier urged the court to ask the Centre to supervise water supply from Haryana to the national capital.
(With inputs from agencies.)