Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of IndiaFile Photo | PTI

SC asks all stakeholder states to discuss Delhi's water demand amid soaring mercury levels

The temperatures in Delhi almost touched 50 degrees C and people are unable to get any relief so far, as the South West monsoon is to hit Delhi not likely before June 20-25.

NEW DELHI: Supreme Court on Monday in its order asked the Upper Yamuna River Board to convene an emergency meeting of all the concerned stakeholder states to resolve the water crisis faced by the residents of Delhi, amidst a sweltering heatwave leading to water shortage in the national capital.

While asking the Upper Yamuna River Board to file a detailed status by June 6 in the emergency meeting, a two-judge vacation bench of the top court, led by Justice P K Mishra and Justice K V Viswanthan asked the Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union government, to facilitate the Board's meeting on June 5, as the June 4 would be the voting counting date for Lok Sabha elections.

During the course of the hearing, Himachal Pradesh govt told the top court that it was ready to give its excess water to the Delhi through canals bringing water to Delhi through Haryana.

The SG Mehta said Board can meet and arrange for additional water, but he pointed out that Delhi govt must stop nearly 50% wastage of water supplied to the national capital.

Water Minister of Delhi, Atishi had filed the petition before the top court saying that the filing of “this petition has been necessitated by an acute heat wave and an issuance of a red alert in the NCT, with temperatures soaring to a record-breaking high of 52.9 degrees Celsius.”

The Delhi government's plea sought direction to Haryana and Himachal Pradesh govt for supplying more water to the national capital keeping in view the severe water woes faced by it.

The Delhi govt had made the Centre, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh as parties to the case filed by it in the top court. As per many reports, a lot of areas in Delhi including Chanakyapuri's Sanjay Camp, Geeta colony in East Delhi, Patel Nagar, various North and South Delhi parts, Mehrauli and Chhatarpur and others facing acute water shortages. Many people in these areas failed to get even the minimum water, although they stood in queue to get at least a bucket of water. In its petition, Delhi government said that the need for water for Delhi people has increased amid sweltering heat and a severe heat wave.

"Delhi's need for water has increased in the scorching heat. It is everyone's responsibility to fulfil the needs of the country's capital," the petition said.

Even the Delhi's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government had ordered to impose fine of 2,000 on wastage of water and formed 200 teams to enforce the penalty on those who allegedly wastage water.

The temperatures in Delhi almost touched 50 degrees Celsius and people are unable to get any relief so far, as the South West monsoon is to hit Delhi not likely before June 20-25.

"Access to water is one of basic human rights; water essential for sustenance, access to water also forms essential component of guarantee of dignity and quality of life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution," the plea said.

It also added that unprecedented surge in temperature has triggered extraordinary and excessive demand for water, which is not being met by supply from neighboring states, thereby precipitating a full-fledged water and sanitation crisis.

Since Himachal Pradesh does not share a physical boundary with Delhi, this water needs to be released to national capital through Wazirabad barrage, which is located in Delhi, the AAP govt said in its petition.

“Access to water is one of the basic human rights of an individual. Not only is water essential for sustenance, but access to water also forms an essential component of the guarantee of dignity and a quality of life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. The current water crisis, which may only get worse given peak summers and ongoing water shortage, violates the right to a dignified and quality life of the people of the NCT of Delhi, who are unable to access even adequate clean drinking water,” the Delhi government said in its petition before the Supreme Court.

“This unprecedented surge in temperature, during the dry, arid summer, has triggered an extraordinary and excessive demand for water, which is not being met by supply from the neighboring states, thereby precipitating a full-fledged water and sanitation crisis,” the plea said.

The Kejriwal government further argued in its petition before the top court that “Due to this increased demand, which will continue till the end of June, which is when the monsoon begins in the NCT, the water levels of the Wazirabad barrage have been critically reduced, which has resulted in water shortage, putting the health and well-being of the 25 million residents of the NCT of Delhi at grave risk.”

The plea said that "the petitioner (Delhi) Govt has already devised a solution to meet the increased demand for water in the national capital — the State of Himachal Pradesh, Respondent No. 2, has agreed to share its surplus water with Delhi, as per a pre-existing MOU signed in 2019."

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