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No end in sight for Delhi’s water shortage as Himachal does U-turn; says ‘No surplus water left’

Supreme Court expresses irritation at flip flop by hill state; top lawyer offers apology 


Reacting to this abrupt U-turn manoeuvred by Himachal Pradesh, the Supreme Court bench couldn’t hide its irritation and called out the ‘casual’ manner of operating at inter-state level of governance. Photo: Sayantan Bera / CSE

The problems for Delhi’s ongoing water crisis don’t seem to end any time soon. In a major setback for millions of Delhi’s underprivileged residents, Himachal Pradesh has now expressed its inability to provide surplus water.

Previously, on June 6, the hill state had volunteered to quench the national capital’s thirst by transferring 137 cusecs [a unit of flow equal to 1 cubic foot per second] of surplus water to Hathnikund barrage in Haryana.

Thereby, the Supreme Court had asked the Haryana government to facilitate the further transfer of water to the neighbouring state of Delhi. 

However, this apex court-mandated arrangement of solving Delhi’s water crisis has fallen flat. This is because the attorney representing the Himachal government has posted a letter to the Court stating that he was not ‘properly apprised of the situation’ while committing to help Delhi. 

Reacting to this abrupt U-turn manoeuvred by Himachal Pradesh, the Supreme Court bench couldn’t hide its irritation and called out the ‘casual’ manner of operating at inter-state level of governance. 

“You do not understand the repercussion of your statement to cover up the earlier statement….made such a casual statement before the Court without understanding the ramifications,” a Vacation Bench of Justices Prashant Kumar Mishra and Prasanna B Varal was quoted by Live Law

It further warned the concerned attorney of contempt in case the hill state is being wrongly reported to not have surplus water. 

“The officer who has supplied that chart is saying that we have excess water of 137 cusecs and the additional AG was not properly apprised of the situation. Now, you are issuing a letter that 137 is already in the pipeline….If you have excess water and you are not supplying that excess water, you are in contempt,” the Bench added.

Realising the gravity of the situation, Himachal Pradesh’s Advocate General — the top lawyer representing the state — offered an apology for the snappy flip flop on the issue.

Meanwhile, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing virtually for the Delhi government, assured the Bench that everything that can be done to end Delhi’s water shortage will be done. 

Singhvi also suggested that the apex court can appoint a committee to resolve Delhi’s water crisis. He also commented that technical proceedings are not a solution to Delhi’s imminent water crisis.

“….separate instructions like not washing your car have been issued. Your Lordship may give any other direction; we will be happy to implement it. This is a joint effort.”




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