Supreme Court to take up Delhi’s additional water supply matter on June 12 | Latest News India

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By Mahtab Ahmad


Days after the Supreme Court directed the Himachal Pradesh government to urgently consider release of 137 cusecs of surplus drinking water to Delhi, the Upper Yamuna River Board (UYRB) informed the top court on Monday that there is no way to measure compliance of the order by Himachal, which neither has any storage facility to measure the additional flow nor any data is available to ascertain the surplus water released by the state after meeting its requirements.

The Supreme Court of India. (File)
The Supreme Court of India. (File)

A vacation bench of the Supreme Court headed by justice PK Mishra adjourned the hearing to June 12 as a copy of the UYRB report was not before it. Even the Haryana government, which is party to the proceeding, claimed to have submitted a document to the court. The bench pulled up the Delhi government as it failed to clear a defect pointed out by the registry at the time of filing of the petition due to which the reports and applications filed in the matter could not be received.

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The bench, also comprising justice PB Varale said, “The defects were pointed out last week and still they have not been removed.” Pulling up the Delhi government represented by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Shadan Farasat appearing virtually and advocate Talha Abdul Rehman, who was physically present in court, the bench remarked, “You cannot take this court for a ride. Let the office verify if you have removed the defects. If you have not, then this petition will be dismissed.” Advocate Rehman informed the court that the same had been done and assured that he will make sure the matter is “defect-free” by the end of the day.

Additional solicitor general (ASG) Vikramjit Banerjee appearing for the Centre and the UYRB along with senior advocate Wasim Qadri told the court that the Board has filed its status report as per the earlier order of June 6 when HP was asked to supply 137 cusecs of surplus water to Delhi. The same order also required the Haryana government to ensure that the surplus water received by it at Hathnikund Barrage (HKB) is supplied to Delhi through Wazirabad. The court directed the Board to measure the surplus flow of water at HKB and report compliance.

The report prepared by UYRB said, “Himachal Pradesh does not have any storage from where it can release the additional water amounting to 137 cusecs in pursuance to the June 6 order.” Further, the board said, “The complete information ascertaining the utilisation by HP has not been supplied (to the UYRB)…in the absence of which the board is not in a position to estimate the unutilised share of state of HP which they want to share with the national capital territory of Delhi and pass through the state of Haryana.”

The Board further told the court that pursuant to the June 6 order it wrote to both Haryana and HP governments to intimate modalities for measuring the excess flow at HKB. While Haryana responded, the HP government failed to respond. A letter written by HP Jal Shakti Vibhag to its counterpart in Haryana on June 6 was reproduced by the Board, which said that “137 cusecs of unutilised water is already flowing un-interruptedly from HP to HKB in river Yamuna.”

The Board said, “It therefore emerges that HP is not releasing any additional water subsequent to the order of Supreme Court on June 6 which could be measured by UYRB.” This was further substantiated by the data of inflow of water recorded by the Board at HKB beginning June 6. According to this data, the inflow recorded on June 6 was 4,028 cusecs, which varied from 4,202 cusecs on June 7, to 3,961 cusecs on June 8 and finally 4,228 cusecs on June 9.

The water received at HKB is distributed to Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi. In addition, Delhi receives additional water from Haryana pursuant to past orders of the Supreme Court.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan appearing for the Haryana government informed the court that the state has also filed a response but the same was also not available to the court.

The court realised that going through the reports was essential as this case is being widely reported in the media. “There is so much reporting in the media and if we do not read the files, then the media reports can impress us which is not a good thing,” the bench observed.

It was at the instance of the top court, the UYRB was directed to convene a meeting on June 5 considering the drinking water crisis in the Capital. When the matter was heard on June 6, HP government informed the court that for the period between March and June 2024, 137 cusecs of surplus water is available with the state, which it was willing to release from the upstream to ensure Delhi gets surplus water. The order required HP to supply the additional water from June 7.



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