Staff Reporter

Congress president alone has right to open Sonia Vihar plant: Bhisham Sharma

NEW DELHI: The battle for inauguration of the controversial 140 MGD Sonia Vihar water treatment plant has taken an interesting turn with the senior Congress MLA and Delhi Jal Board vice-chairman, Bhisham Sharma, insisting that the plant should be inaugurated by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and nobody else has the right to kick off this water distribution project.

"Only Ms. Gandhi should be asked to inaugurate the project as this is also the desire of the people of Sonia Vihar area and the residents of Delhi as the project has been named after her. If there is any attempt to bring some other leader or it is inaugurated without Ms. Gandhi's presence, then I will boycott the function,'' Mr. Sharma asserted.

The Delhi Jal Board has embarked upon a major advertisement campaign in the run up to the inauguration that has been postponed time and again for some mysterious reasons.

The Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, had last month stated that the plant would be inaugurated on August 1 but that has not happened. Now it is expected that the plant will informally start distributing water from August 9.

Mr. Sharma said he would be personally meeting the Congress president to invite her for the inauguration of the plant. "It is the desire of the Congress cadres and the party MLAs that Ms. Gandhi should inaugurate the new plant."

Asked about the reported invitation by the Delhi Government to the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, to inaugurate the plant, Mr. Sharma said he had no information about this. However, many leaders and officials felt that in view of the controversy that had engulfed the entire project and the massive delay in making it operational over the past three years, the best option should be to have a quite inauguration as not all the areas will be served by the distribution of water from this plant as had been proposed.