Free Press Journal

Yamuna water dispute: Supreme Court asks Delhi, Haryana,Centre to hold meeting


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New Delhi: The Supreme Court today directed the chief secretaries of Delhi and Haryana and the secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources to hold a meeting immediately to discuss and sort out the issues relating to the supply of Yamuna river water to the national capital.

The apex court said this after chief secretaries of Delhi and Haryana, who were both present in the court during the hearing, raised some issues regarding the minutes of the meeting held earlier between them.

While Delhi chief secretary Anshu Prakash told a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta that they had not agreed on certain aspects at the last meeting, the chief secretary of Haryana said the minutes of the last meeting were “correctly recorded”.

“What should be done now? Do we need to have CCTV cameras installed to see what they have said (in the meeting)? All of them are senior officers,” the bench observed.

However, Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, said that both Delhi and Haryana should sort it out and they should have a fresh meeting to deliberate on the issue.

Delhi chief secretary told the bench that at the last meeting, they had not agreed on the aspect of withdrawal of cases filed by the Delhi government against Haryana in this regard but it was recorded in the minutes that this issue was agreed upon.

“You tell us the solution. This cannot go on like this,” the bench observed.

Haryana’s chief secretary D S Dhesi said they had started releasing water to Delhi from April 2 itself.

The Haryana counsel said that water was being released as per the agreement and claimed that Delhi wanted to get the share of Haryana’s water also.

“In the garb of a judicial order, they (Delhi) want Haryana to part with its share of water,” the counsel claimed.

“What Delhi is asking is not a favour from Haryana. It is as per the Supreme Court’s order. We had written to Haryana. They started releasing water but then they stopped it. We want continuous supply of water,” the Delhi chief secretary said.

Delhi’s counsel said there was a shortfall of 120 cusecs of water of the Yamuna river daily for the national capital.

However, the bench asked Delhi as to what it had done to remove the garbage and junk lying in Yamuna river.

“What about the junk lying there? The water stinks. Garbage is there. What is this going on? River Yamuna was supposed to be a goddess,” the bench observed.

When Nadkarni said both the chief secretaries of Delhi and Haryana and secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources should meet to resolve the issue, the bench said, “the meeting should be held in a cordial atmosphere”.

The bench asked them to hold meeting on the issue urgently and posted the matter for hearing on April 27.

At the fag end of hearing, Haryana’s counsel raised the issue of Satluj-Yamuna Link canal and referred to the apex court’s decree asking Punjab to honour its commitments regarding water sharing.

The controversial 1981 water-sharing agreement came into being after Haryana was carved out of Punjab in 1966.

For effective allocation of water, the SYL canal link was conceptualised and both the states were required to construct their portions within their territories Haryana had constructed the portion of SYL canal in its territory. However, Punjab, after the initial phase, stopped the work, leading to spate of litigations.

During the hearing earlier in the matter related to water sharing between Delhi and Haryana, the apex court had asked their chief secretaries to appear before it after the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) had said it was not receiving enough water to supply to the national capital.

The Delhi government had earlier informed the apex court it was in talks with Haryana for the release of 450 cusecs of water of the Yamuna daily for the national capital.

The court was hearing a plea filed by the DJB alleging that Haryana had reduced by one-third the supply of Yamuna water to the national capital, leading to a grave water crisis.

The DJB has contended that Haryana was supplying Delhi only 330 cusecs of water daily as against 450 cusecs per day, which was agreed upon between the state and the Union Territory.

The DJB had said that due to the present curtailment in water supply to the Wazirabad reservoir, the plant was running at reduced capacity leading to a “grave water crisis” in the city.

It has sought directions from the apex court to Haryana government to supply the entire 450 cusec of water per day continuously and daily to the Wazirabad reservoir.