SC directs the Yamuna River Board to hold an urgent meeting on June 5 to address Delhi’s water crisis

The Bench will hear the case on June 6

Published - June 03, 2024 03:52 pm IST - NEW DELHI

New Delhi is currently facing a severe water crisis. File

New Delhi is currently facing a severe water crisis. File | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Supreme Court on June 3 directed the Centre to hold an emergency meeting of its Upper Yamuna River Board with the States of Delhi, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh to address water scarcity in the national capital amidst soaring temperatures crossing the 50-degree Celsius mark.

A Vacation Bench of Justices P.K. Mishra and K.V. Viswanathan ordered the meeting to be held on June 5.

“Tomorrow there will be too much heat,” Justice Mishra said, referring to the declaration of the Lok Sabha election results on June 4. Justice Viswanathan said, “People would be glued to the TV”.

The Bench scheduled the case for June 6 and said the minutes of the meeting and the suggested steps to be taken by the stakeholders States should also be placed on record. It said the States, the Board and the Centre should address the issues raised by the Delhi government about water scarcity in the capital in “right earnest” during the June 5 meeting.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for both the Centre and Haryana, alleged that over 50% of the water reaching Delhi was diverted into the hands of the tanker mafia or “lost”. “If 100 litres come to Delhi, 48.65 litres reach the residents. The total water loss is 52.35%. Where does it go? Into the hands of the tanker mafia... You (Delhi government) have to tighten up,” Mr. Mehta alleged.

Appearing for Delhi, senior advocate A.M. Singhvi countered the figures were wrong and the allegations baseless. “We just wanted the water level at the barrage of Wazirabad to be maintained. We are the capital. The heat is at an all-time high. There is migration into the capital,” Mr. Singhvi said, trying to bring perspective to the problem at hand.

The Delhi government, in its petition before the apex court, said access to water was one of the basic human rights of an individual. “Access to water is an essential component of dignity and quality of life guaranteed under the Constitution... The current water crisis may only get worse due to the peak summer and ongoing water shortage. People of Delhi are unable to access even adequate clean drinking water,” the Delhi government argued in the apex court.

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