HC pulls up Haryana for not repairing old canal bringing water to Delhi

The Delhi High Court has pulled up the Haryana government, for its failure to repair the old sub-branch canal that carries water to the national capital, which is facing a water shortage

The Delhi High Court, on May 10, 2018, pulled up the Haryana government for not issuing any tenders till date, for repair of the old sub-branch canal, which carries water to the national capital, despite payment of Rs 28.16 crores to it by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) for the work. It directed that the tender process and award of the work, should be completed by June 15, 2018.

A bench of acting chief justice Gita Mittal and justice C Hari Shankar, was displeased with the fact that the neighbouring state had not yet encashed the cheques for the amount of Rs 28.16 crores, though they were sent in March and directed it to immediately encash them. “No steps appear to have been taken, since our last order of March 13,” the court observed and directed that the tender process and award of the work be completed at the earliest and not later than June 15, 2018, so that the authorities would be ready to commence repairs as soon as the monsoon hits Delhi.

See also: Over-exploitation of groundwater in Delhi, situation semi-critical: SC

The high court, on March 13, 2018, had directed Haryana and Delhi to take steps to immediately carry out the repairs of the Delhi Sub-Branch Canal (DSBC). The bench said any delay in commencing the work would lead to wastage of water, which would be really needed by the national capital. It also said that non-encashment of the cheques was leading to the DJB having to maintain the amount in its account, without getting any accrual or interest on the money, which could have been spent on salaries. Haryana said it had not encashed the cheques, as the DJB had also sent a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the same had to be signed, before the amount could be encashed. The state also said that there was still time to carry out the tender process, as the repairs can be carried out only after the monsoon hit the capital, which was expected to be on or after July 1, 2018.

The DJB, on the other hand, refuted the allegation and claimed that the neighbouring state was not signing the MoU, because it had no intention of repairing the canal as any water saved would accrue to the benefit of the national capital. It also said the monsoon could reach Delhi around the middle of June. After hearing both the sides, the bench directed the Haryana government to forthwith encash the amount and immediately commence the process of issuing tenders for the repair work, as there was no certainty regarding the arrival of the monsoon.

The court was hearing a PIL moved by advocate SB Tripathi, who said that the population in Delhi was increasing each day but the raw water available to the city was the same or even decreasing. Tripathi had also moved a fresh application, seeking directions to DJB and Haryana, to carry out 100 per cent concrete lining of the old DSBC, similar to Munak canal, to reduce seepage of water. The plea claimed that presently, due to seepage, 50 per cent of the 330 cusecs of water released into the DSBC by Haryana was lost and this wastage could be brought down to five per cent, by concrete lining. It also said that the work could be carried out during the monsoon, when there would be sufficient water available in the Yamuna river and the DSBC could be shut for repairs. The bench had earlier asked the Haryana government to ensure that it releases the entire quantity of water it is required to, according to the undertaking given to the court. Haryana has to release 719 cusecs of water per day into the Munak canal and 330 cusecs per day into the DSB canal, according to the undertaking and earlier court orders.

 

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