The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear on March 25 a fresh plea of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) seeking directions to the Haryana government to cease the discharge of untreated pollutants into the River Yamuna and release sufficient water to the national capital.
A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian agreed to list the matter on Thursday, after advocate Shadan Farasat mentioned for urgent listing of a fresh interlocutory application (IA) filed by the DJB, in the pending plea.
He said water supply in the river has reduced substantially and demand has been increasing in the national capital.
The bench listed the matter for further hearing on March 25.
In the fresh IA, the DJB has said that direction be issued by the top court to the Haryana government to release the water to avert a potential severe crisis in the national capital.
It has claimed that the Haryana government has reduced the supply of raw water to Delhi, resulting in shortage of water supply in the national capital. Delhi Jal Board chairman Raghav Chadha in a statement issued earlier this month, had said that the regular fall in the level of Yamuna, especially during summers, along with the discharge of pollutants that cause rise in ammonia levels, is a matter of grave concern.
The DJB had said that Delhi is facing a potential severe water crisis due to high ammonia levels in the Yamuna and the continuously depleting water level at Wazirabad barrage, which supplies drinking water to the Wazirabad, Okhla and Chandrawal water treatment plants.
Raw water is sourced from the Yamuna and is drawn at Wazirabad barrage, it had said, adding that the quantity and quality of raw water at Wazirabad Barrage is dependent on the release of water by the Haryana government.
Haryana supplies water to Delhi through the Carrier-Lined Channel (CLC), Delhi Sub-Branch (DSB) and the Yamuna. The CLC and DSB supply water from Hathni Kund via Munak canal and Bhakra Beas Management Board.
At present, Delhi receives 479 million gallons water a day (MGD) against 609 MGD from Haryana. Besides, Delhi draws 90 MGD groundwater and receives 250 MGD from the Upper Ganga Canal.
The normal level of the Yamuna near Wazirabad Pond should be 674.50 feet but it has dropped to 670.90 feet.
The drastic fall in the water level at Wazirabad pond has affected water production at Wazirabad, Okhla and Chandrawal water treatment plants which supply drinking water to central, north, west and south Delhi.
As per the DJB, currently, Haryana through CLC canal is supplying only 549.16 cusecs against 683 cusecs and Delhi Sub-Branch canal is supplying 306.63 cusecs against 330 cusecs.
The treatment capacity at Wazirabad and Chandrawal water treatment plants has dipped by 30 per cent. The same has reduced by 15 per cent at Okhla WTP, he had said.
On January 19, the top court had sought a report from a committee, set up by the NGT, regarding the recommendations made by the panel for improving the water quality of Yamuna river and the extent to which authorities have implemented them.
The National Green Tribunal had on July 26, 2018 constituted the monitoring committee comprising its former expert member B S Sajwan and former Delhi chief secretary Shailaja Chandra on the cleaning of Yamuna river and had directed it to submit an action plan in this regard.
The top court had on January 13 said that pollution-free water is a fundamental right which a welfare state is “bound to ensure”, and issued notices to the Centre, CPCB and five states including Delhi and Haryana on the issue.
The top court, while appointing senior advocate Meenakshi Arora as amicus curiae, had directed its registry to register the suo motu case as ”Remediation of polluted rivers”, said it would first take up the issue of contamination of the Yamuna river.