Delhi Jal Board urges Supreme Court to initiate contempt proceedings against Haryana

Haryana ‘wilfully’ disobeyed Feb. 1996 order of court to maintain water level at Wazirabad reservoir at full capacity to serve drinking water needs of Capital, it states.

The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has asked the Supreme Court to initiate contempt proceedings against Haryana Chief Secretary Vijai Vardhan and the Additional Chief Secretary, Irrigation and Water Resources Department, Devender Singh, for ‘wilfully’ disobeying a February 1996 order of the court to maintain the water level at the Wazirabad reservoir at full capacity to serve the drinking water needs of the Capital.

“Due to non-supply of adequate water by Haryana, the water level in the Wazirabad reservoir is only 31% full. This has the possibility of triggering a severe water crisis in Delhi. The petitioner has already had to curtail water for several areas in Delhi, including the President’s Estate, the Parliament House and other institutional and diplomatic buildings as well as many residential areas,” the DJB submitted.

Seeking an urgent hearing, it said Haryana was acting in clear violation of the court order in the Delhi Water Supply and Sewage Disposal Undertaking versus State of Haryana case.

“This court had directed that the water level at Wazirabad reservoir has to be kept full to its capacity by Haryana in order to meet the drinking water needs of Delhi,” it stated.

Discharge of pollutants

The DJB had approached the court to “immediately stop” Haryana from discharging pollutants into the Yamuna river. The increased ammonia levels had impaired the water treatment plants and a drinking water and health crises loomed large in Delhi, it noted.

The DJB had also, in that case, accused Haryana of not releasing the full quantity of water entitled to Delhi at Wazirabad. In a petition in that case, it alleged that the actions/inactions constituted a violation of the principle of cooperative federalism. It amounted to an upper riparian State taking undue advantage of a shared river for irrigation and industrial purposes while effectively not allowing a lower riparian State to access water for drinking”.

Haryana had denied the charges.

An offshoot of the case had been the decision of the court to examine the issue of river pollution, starting with the Yamuna.

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