‘Maintain status quo on supply of Yamuna water’

SC directs Punjab, Haryana govts. after hearing DJB plea

March 26, 2021 12:33 am | Updated 03:42 am IST - NEW DELHI

A ragpicker on the banks of the Yamuna river in Delhi.

A ragpicker on the banks of the Yamuna river in Delhi.

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the States of Haryana and Punjab and the Bhakra Beas Management Board to maintain status quo in the supply of Yamuna water to Delhi till March 26.

A Bench led by Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde passed the order on a plea filed by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) alleging that Haryana would cut 20% of its water supply to Delhi due to repair work in one of its canals.

Appearing for the DJB, senior advocate A.M. Singhvi and advocate Gautam Narayan, said it had asked them to defer the work as any substantial reduction in the water supply in the peak of summer would affect the national capital badly.

Mr. Singhvi said both the ‘aam admi Delhi’ and the ‘Lutyens Delhi’ would be equally starved of water if supply is cut. He said the court could even appoint a court commissioner to conduct a field inspection of the “repair work”. Mr. Singhvi said the DJB is not against the conduct of the repair work, but was only saying that it should be done in the monsoon or in autumn and not in summer.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh said the water level has come down six feet. Senior advocate for Haryana, Shyam Divan, denied the board’s allegations. “The full and complete supply is being given to Delhi... not a drop less. A series of wrong statements are being made. Levels are being maintained,” Mr. Divan objected.

The court said it would not know till it gets a complete picture on the nature of the repairs.

Chief Justice Bobde, however, said the issue is matter of access to clean water, which is a fundamental right. The court agreed to hear the case on March 26 on an urgent basis.

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