Smriti Kak Ramachandran

NEW DELHI: As Delhi and Haryana squabbled over release of water necessary to maintain the pond level at Wazirabad to meet the Capital's needs, most parts of the city including the VIP areas faced an acute water shortage on Monday.

Trying to defuse the situation, the Upper Yamuna River Board has stepped in and sought an end to the tussle for water.

The Delhi Jal Board has blamed Haryana for not releasing adequate water to maintain the pond level of 674.5 feet at Wazirabad, leading to a shortage of about 200 cusecs of water in the city. Refuting the charge, officials at the Haryana Irrigation Department (HID) said "Haryana is paying a price for quenching Delhi's thirst".

"The [DJB] has been saying that Haryana is not releasing enough water, whereas the truth is that Delhi is drawing more than it has a right to. As per the MoU that was signed between the two States and in accordance with the 1996 Supreme Court orders we are supplying Delhi with water for drinking, but the DJB has been lifting water from Wazirabad for the Bagirathi water treatment plant as well, for which the water comes from Ganga," said HID Superintending Engineer M.K. Lamba.

"Places like Dadri and Bhiwani in Haryana have no drinking water, canals in Sonepat and Panipat have been closed because there is no water," he said, adding, "Of the total 2,300 cusecs at our disposal we are supplying Delhi 1,601 cusecs, yet we are blamed for Delhi's water scarcity."

While Mr. Lamba held the DJB responsible for not making provisions to store water at Wazirabad for emergencies, the Board's Chief Executive Officer Arun Mathur said: "The Bagirathi water treatment plant is getting its full supply from the Ganga. We do not have any water pumps at the Sangam pump house at Wazirabad as is claimed by the HID."

Mr. Mathur said as per Supreme Court orders Haryana has to release as much water as is necessary to maintain the pond level at Wazirabad. "The quantum of water has to be enough so as to maintain the level of 674.5 feet. And even if we do lift 20 cusecs of water for Bagirathi we still face a shortfall of about 200 cusecs," he said.

The CEO said that with Haryana not releasing the required quantity of water, production has been affected at Chandrawal and Wazirabad. "The production has come down by 20 to 30 per cent and the supply is severely affected in the NDMC areas including hospitals like Lohia and Lady Hardinge."

Meanwhile, the Upper Yamuna River Board, which has been approached by both the sparring sides, has directed the authorities concerned to do the needful. A senior official said HID had been asked to ensure that Delhi does not face a shortfall of water.

In a late night development, Haryana was understood to have released 800 cusecs of water that would take at least two days to reach Delhi.