Atishi begins hunger strike for more water; BJP calls it a sham

Atishi begins hunger strike for more water
| Video Credit: PTI

Did everything possible to get relief, indefinite fast is now the only option: Water Minister; BJP says the protest is meant to hide Atishi’s inefficiency

Updated - June 22, 2024 01:36 pm IST

Published - June 22, 2024 01:14 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi Water Minister Atishi on Friday launched an indefinite hunger strike, demanding that Haryana release Delhi’s “rightful” share of water. The national capital has been suffering from an acute water shortage, with the Minister claiming that the BJP-ruled Haryana had curbed water supply to the city, directly affecting nearly 28 lakh people.

Several senior AAP leaders, including Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s wife, Sunita Kejriwal, were present at the launch of Ms. Atishi’s fast, which she termed “Paani satyagraha”.

Ms. Kejriwal read out a message from her husband who said Delhi’s people had nowhere to go amid the water crisis even as the neighbouring State of Haryana had refused to extend help.

Water Minister Atishi, along with other senior leaders of AAP, at Rajghat on Friday before the start of her fast.

Water Minister Atishi, along with other senior leaders of AAP, at Rajghat on Friday before the start of her fast. | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

The message stated, “We had hoped that we would get more support from the neighbouring States in this difficult time, but even in such a difficult time, the Haryana government has reduced the daily supply of water to Delhi. Delhi is thirsty. Where should the people of Delhi go?”

The CM went on to say, “It is true that Delhi and Haryana have governments of different parties, but is this the time to do politics? If there is an earthquake in any part of the country, or there is a flood somewhere, then we do not see which party’s government is there. The whole country gets involved in the relief work; only then are we one country. But the Haryana government does not care about this.”

New Delhi MP Bansuri Swaraj said Ms. Atishi’s hunger strike was a “sham” and an attempt to cover up her inefficiency as the Water Minister.

‘No relief’

Addressing mediapersons from the protest site in south-east Delhi’s Bhogal, the Minister said Delhi relies on a supply of 1,005 million gallons per day (MGD) of water daily. Out of this, Haryana is supposed to provide the city with 613 MGD. However, for the past two weeks, the State has been supplying only 513 MGD of water.

“Being the Water Minister of Delhi, I made every possible effort to get Delhi’s rightful share of water. However, the BJP government of Haryana did not provide it. In this regard, I also wrote a letter to the Prime Minister and requested him to get Delhi’s rightful share of water from the Haryana government. Instead of providing relief, for the last two days, the Haryana government has curbed 120 MGD of supply,” she said.

‘Ignored warnings’

Ms. Swaraj said the Delhi Jal Board should have prepared in advance for the water crisis, given that the weather department had issued repeated warnings about the intense heat. The New Delhi MP also asked why the Delhi government had not sought water from the Punjab government, as AAP is in power in both States.

In a statement, AAP dismissed Ms. Swaraj’s claims, accusing the MP of “trying to trivialise the situation by asking baseless questions”.

“Delhi Water Minister has made every effort to mitigate the water crisis, including meeting Delhi’s Lieutenant-Governor, seeking interventions from the Prime Minister and Union Jal Shakti Minister, and requesting help from the Haryana CM,” it added.

‘However, none of these leaders offered any help. With no options left, she is now taking a stand by sitting on a ‘Satyagraha’ to ensure that the 28 lakh people of Delhi get their rightful share of water,” the statement also said.

The BJP also said that the senior AAP leader had chosen to hold her protest in Bhogal with the next year’s Assembly election in mind as the Minister was seeking to contest from the Jangpura constituency.

However, AAP sources said, “We were afraid that they [police] would impose prohibitory orders under Section 144 on us if we chose a bigger ground. That’s why we decided to hold the protest in a residential area.”

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