A three judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde comprising of Justice AS Bopanna and Justice V Ramasubramanian stated that the matter was serious, and sought responses from Punjab, Haryana and Bhakra Board within one day. The respondents are directed to maintain STATUS QUO on supply of water to Delhi till 26th March.
Delhi receives about 232 million gallons per day (MGD) of water through the channel which helps meet nearly 25% of the city’s daily water requirement, estimated to be around 935 million gallons per day. Noting that Drinking water is a fundamental Right , the Supreme Court on 22nd March,2021 issued notices to the Punjab and Haryana governments and the Bakhra Beas Management Board on a petition by the Delhi Jal Board that repair work on Nangal Hydel Channel gates will lead to a severe crisis in the city.
The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) after anticipating water scarcity in Delhi rushed to the Supreme Court to seek a stay on repairs being carried out by the Bhakra Beas Management Board scheduled on April and May. The Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi for Delhi Jal board said that “We do not have any problem with the repairs being carried out, but do not continue it in April, as there is a peak demand of water in the city”.
Since a few months earlier, the Delhi Jal Board has written about sixletters to Punjab And Haryana governments and the Bhakhra Beas Management Board, stating the postponement of repairs of the hydel channel to the monsoon months of July and August, but received no response, Said the advocate of the Delhi Jal Board. Further for the same purpose the Senior officers of the Delhi Jal Board visted the state of Punjab early this month.
The Bench needed to know the nature of the repair work being carried out at the hydel project, the Bench said,” if the repairs are integral to the water channel, we will not stop them”, further Advocate Singhvi assured the Bench that the repairs can be done on a later note as well, and requested for a stay till the matter is further taken up. This is the second petition by the Delhi Jal Board before the Supreme Court concerning the supply of water to the Capital City. In January,2021, the Delhi Jal Board filed a petition accusing the Haryana Government of releasing untreated water into the Yamuna river, leading to high ammonia levels in the water that posed a healthy hazard to residents of the Capital City.
The Bench said that, “ Since it is a matter of fundamental right to water, we will not entertain any technical objections and if required we may appoint a commissioner to visit the Spot”. The Spokesperson for the Bhakhra Beas Management Board rejected the reports that the water flow to Delhi will stop, as a false statement and the Spokesperson for the Punjab and Haryana governments did not respond to the questions till time.