Acting on concerns over the health of the people of Delhi, the National Green Tribunal, on February 13, 2018, directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to analyse samples of Yamuna water at four points, on the Delhi Jal Board’s (DJB’s) plea alleging high ammonia content in the water being provided by Haryana to Delhi. A bench comprising justices Jawad Rahim and SP Wangdi, ordered the apex pollution monitoring body to take the samples and detect the levels of ammonia and other pollutants, at Tajewala in Haryana, Wazirabad water treatment plant, Okhla and ITO barrage in Delhi.
“In the given circumstances, the issue with regard to the extent of content of ammonia in the water, which, according to the Delhi Jal Board has exceeded to an alarming situation and as a consequence of less water upstream and high level of pollutants, we are of the opinion that let the Central Pollution Control Board conduct inspection and collect samples of the water at Tajewala headworks and at Wazirabad Water Treatment Plant and also from Okhla and ITO barrage, as detailed in the map which is filed today,” the bench, also comprising expert member Nagin Nanda, said. The tribunal directed that the report should contain analysis of the water, particularly with reference of ammonia and other pollutants and be filed by February 16, 2018, the next date of hearing.
The bench rapped the CPCB over its approach, when it asked the board about its stand in the case. The lawyer appearing for the CPCB told the NGT that he was yet to receive instructions on the issue. The bench said a special bench has been constituted to hear the matter and all the parties were asked to be ready with their submissions but the apex pollution monitoring body was not serious in its approach. “What have you (CPCB) been doing, when the levels of ammonia have increased? You must involve yourself in the problem. This is a primary concern of water, which is being supplied to the residents and it is necessary for you to step in,” the bench observed.
During the hearing, senior advocate Parag Tripathi, appearing for the Delhi Jal Board, alleged that Haryana was supplying ‘poisoned sewage water’ to the national capital, which had 2.6 parts per million of ammonia. He said the water supplied to Delhi was neither potable, nor treatable and the state government was in breach of the Supreme Court order on supply of water.
The counsel appearing for the Haryana government refuted the contention and said there was no breach of any agreement. He said Delhi was getting its share of 1,050 cusecs, without any disruption and it was in fact the inability of the water treatment plants for the current situation. The lawyer said that the treating capacity of water treatment plants should be increased in Delhi and the matter be referred to Upper Yamuna River Board, for resolution of the dispute.
The DJB, which supplies water to the city, had, on February 12, 2018, approached the tribunal, demanding that Haryana be asked to take urgent steps to check the ‘dangerous level of ammonia’ in river Yamuna. The petition claimed that the water being released by the state was so polluted that it cannot be treated for drinking. It may cause ‘a huge and irreparable loss to the citizens of Delhi and has the potential for a grave health crisis and water crisis in the National Capital Region (NCR)’, the DJB said.
The tribunal had then asked the state government to file its response to the DJB’s plea, seeking immediate steps to reduce the blackish colour and foul smell of the water, being supplied to the Wazirabad pond from Haryana. The petition also claimed that when the water enters Haryana, the ammonia level is nil and very much treatable, whereas when the water enters Delhi, the level is very high.