SC orders urgent Yamuna board meet

Asks Centre to facilitate meeting of stakeholder states on June 5 to resolve city scarcity
SC orders urgent Yamuna board meet

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Upper Yamuna River Board (UYRB) to convene an emergency meeting of all the stakeholders states to resolve water shortages in the national capital, amid the prevailing heatwave conditions

Asking the UYRB to file a detailed status report on the emergency meeting by June 6, a two-judge vacation bench of the top court, led by Justice P K Mishra and Justice K V Viswanthan asked the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, to facilitate the Board’s meeting on June 5, as the June 4 is the counting date for the Lok Sabha polls.

During the hearing, the Himachal Pradesh government informed the top court that it was ready to provide its excess water to the national capital through canals via Haryana.

Mehta said the Board can meet and arrange for additional water, while also pointing out that the Delhi government must prevent wastage of nearly 50% water supplied to the city.

The bench was hearing a plea filed by the Delhi government seeking a direction to Haryana to release the surplus water provided by Himachal Pradesh to the national capital to mitigate its water crisis.

“In the course of hearing, all the parties agreed that there should be a non-adversarial approach to the problem of scarcity of water faced by the Delhi citizens,” the bench noted.

The court said the parties “agreed that there shall be an emergent meeting of the Upper Yamuna River Board on June 5 to address the issues agitated in this petition and all other connected issues in right earnest so that the problem of scarcity of water for the citizens of Delhi is properly addressed”.

The bench posted the matter for hearing on June 6 along with the minutes of the Board meeting and the suggested steps to be taken by the stakeholders to solve the problem.

Calling the role of the Delhi government into question, Tushar Mehta said as per the figures placed before the Board, if 100 litres of water comes to Delhi, residents get only 48.65 litres. “51.35% water is lost,” he said, adding that though the residents don’t misutilise water, there are leakages, tanker mafia and theft by some industrial units. Mehta said the Delhi government will have to tighten up the strings.

The plea filed by Delhi water minister Atishi sought direction to Haryana and Himachal governments to supply more water to the city in view of prevailing severe water shortages, saying that access to water is a basic human right.

Capital thirsts

The capital continued to grapple with a severe water crisis on Monday, with residents in various parts of the city lining up to collect water from tankers. “The tanker comes once a day, that too in early morning. We are only able to fill a few bottles, as there is a rush, not enough to last through the day,” desperate citizens say.

Water-regulatory body

One of the main functions of the UYRB, set up in 1995, was to regulate allocation of available flows amongst beneficiary states and to monitor and review the progress of all water projects till the Okhla barrage. The states include Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and the NCT of Delhi.

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