Declaring that dams are the only possible source of water to meet the city’s future drinking needs, Delhi wants work related to the construction of dams on the Yamuna to be expedited. On Tuesday, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit told the Centre that work on Renuka, Lakhwar Vyasi and Kishau dams on the Yamuna needs to be taken up on priority basis and the impediments to the work tackled by the stakeholders.

Delhi put forth its demands at the fifth meeting of the Upper Yamuna River Committee that was chaired by Union Minister for Water Resources Harish Rawat. The meeting was attended by the Chief Ministers of Delhi and Haryana, and Irrigation Ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.

“Delhi has already paid over Rs.215 crore for construction of the Renuka Dam and the project has been hanging fire. Forest and environmental clearances are still awaited, so Ms. Dikshit asked for expediting work on that front. Delhi reiterated that all issues that are in interest of all the basin States be dealt with in a time-bound manner, these could be about water sharing, conservation or management of resources,” said an official.

Ms. Dikshit also emphasised the “urgency” of Delhi’s drinking water requirements and sought the cooperation of both the Centre and basin States in fulfilling them.

Speeding up work related to upstream storage projects will help in the optimal utilisation of river flows, particularly during the non-monsoon months, and also improve the ecological health of the river, Ms. Dikshit put forth. While Renuka Dam has been mired in controversy, the Lakhwar Vyasi project has made substantial progress and Delhi is hopeful that the project will be completed soon.

The controversial issue of Haryana withholding 80 MGD of water meant for Delhi through the Munak Canal was also raised, but it was decided to discuss the issue bilaterally between the two States; the issue will also be referred to a Group of Ministers to be chaired by Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.

Other issues that were discussed included equitable sharing of water based on drinking needs, pollution control and sharing of expenses for various maintenance and development works.

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