Smriti Kak Ramachandran

Objects to Supreme Court ruling that directed the State to supply water to Delhi

Matter can escalate tension between the States and also amount to contempt of court

Delhi Govt. sources say that contents of letter, addressed to CWC, are “shocking”

NEW DELHI: Unmoved by all the requests and reminders from the Delhi Government and its agencies for releasing the Capital’s share of Yamuna waters and unconvinced by a Supreme Court order specifying the same, Haryana has not only raised objections to the apex court’s decision but also sought monetary compensation.

In a strongly worded letter addressed to the Central Water Commission, Haryana has sought “raw water charges” from Delhi. In what could further escalate tension between the two States and also possibly amount to contempt of court, officials of the Haryana Irrigation Department have objected to the 1996 Supreme Court order directing Haryana to supply water to Delhi as agreed to in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two States in 1994.

“The contents of the letter are shocking. Not only has Haryana questioned the competence and the jurisdiction of the two-judge Bench that passed the order but it has also asked for money for raw water,” said sources in the Delhi Government.

Haryana has tried to justify its arbitrary decision of withholding water. “In the letter, Haryana has claimed that it is releasing 400-700 cusecs of water over and above the share of Delhi under the 1994 MoU. It has asked for the matter to be referred to a Constitutional bench and inferred that Delhi’s demands are unjustifiable,” said sources.

The letter to the CWC states: “While Delhi is paying to Bhakra Beas Management Board for extra water received by them under another Supreme Court order, they have constantly refused to pay us the raw water charges and even the operation and maintenance charges for this huge quantity being supplied to them under the interim order of the Supreme Court.”

“Our repeated requests to Delhi Jal Board for paying at least the principle amount as an interim payment, which exceeds Rs.70 crore today, have been constantly ignored…,” it adds. Pointing out the discrepancy in Haryana’s claims, sources here said, “The order was final, not interim, and the Delhi Jal Board has been paying a whopping sum as maintenance money. The allegations made are incorrect. Also, Haryana is wrong in assuming that the total need of Delhi rests at 25 cusecs for drinking purposes. Delhi’s population and demands have increased manifold since 1994, but there has been no change in the allocation of water. Delhi is being forced to make the most of what is being supplied.”

Sources refuted Haryana’s charge that Delhi was eating into Haryana’s share and dismissed its request for re-assessment of Delhi’s share. “Rivers pass through many States, and it is impossible for States to claim money for the water they merely carry forward. Haryana flouted a Supreme Court order regarding the supply of water to Nangloi water treatment plant; the case will come up for hearing on April 9. By questioning Delhi’s demands and the Supreme Court’s orders, it is again courting contempt of court,” said sources.