Maintain status quo on Water supply to Delhi: SC directs Punjab, Haryana Govts & BBMB

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On Thursday, the Apex Court directed the Govts of Punjab and Haryana and Bhakra-Beas Management Board (BKMB) to maintain the status quo on the water supply to Delhi till Friday after the Delhi Jal Board alleged that water supply could be reduced here by 25% because of closing of canal gates for repair.

A bench, headed by CJI SA Bobde, also issued notices to the Govts of Punjab, Haryana and BBMB on DJB’s plea against the curtailment of supply of water to Delhi.

“Respondents are directed to maintain status quo regarding the supply of water to Delhi”, ordered the apex court bench. The bench also said that it would hear the case on Friday as there is “urgency” in the matter.

Senior Lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the DJB, contended before the Supreme Court that Delhi has 2 crores of urban population & curtailment of water supply will badly affect the people.

He further said that the canal repair works should not be done in March-April when the water demand is at its peak.

“We are saying that we do not have a problem when you do repair, but at least they can start repairing work in winter or monsoon but not in April.

“It is a routine repair of two gates. We have written six letters since February 2021, our senior officers went & visited the site. We have Lutyens Delhi but we have common men. This will cut down 25 per cent water supply,” Singhvi disputed in the court.

Advocate Gautam Narayan, who was also appearing for DJB, told the Apex Court that 20% of Delhi drinking water would be curtailed from Thursday because of repair work on the canal.

“We asked them not to carry out construction work now & postpone the work till monsoon or at least they have to make available an alternate drinking water route, he added.

Narayan said that “The Chief Secretary has written to Punjab and Haryana. The DJB CEO has inspected & work can happen during monsoon”.

Senior Lawyer Shyam Divan, appearing for the Haryana Govt, said no decision has been made to cut off the water supply.

“We have not curtailed the water supply or reduced the water. Water supply as it was before. The water level is being maintained,” Divan said.

The apex court was hearing an application of the DJB seeking direction be issued to the Haryana and Punjab Govt to release the water to avert a potentially severe crisis in the national capital.

It has claimed that the Haryana and Punjab government will reduce the supply of raw water to Delhi, resulting in a shortage of water supply in Delhi.

The application of DJB was filed in an already pending plea of DJB seeking directions for the Haryana government for ceasing the discharge of untreated effluents resulting in a rise of ammonia levels in river water.

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