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June 6, 2024

Supreme Court Intervenes in Delhi Water Crisis: Himachal Ordered to Release Surplus Water

In a significant development addressing Delhi’s escalating water crisis, the Supreme Court on Friday mandated the Himachal Pradesh government to release 137 cusecs of surplus water. This directive comes as a relief to the national capital, grappling with severe water shortages exacerbated by intense summer heat.

Court’s Directives and Collaborative Efforts

The Supreme Court acknowledged Himachal Pradesh’s agreement to release the surplus water and instructed the Haryana government to ensure its smooth passage through the Wazirabad barrage. Additionally, the court emphasized the necessity for the Himachal government to inform Haryana in advance regarding the water release. Concurrently, the court issued a stern warning to the Delhi government to avoid any wastage of the precious resource.

Delhi’s Plea and Government Initiatives

Last week, the Delhi government, under immense pressure due to the acute water scarcity, appealed to the Supreme Court for supplementary water supplies from neighboring states, including Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh. The situation has become dire with the national capital facing scorching temperatures, intensifying the demand for water.

In response to the crisis, the AAP government on May 30 established a central control room headed by an IAS officer to oversee the distribution and management of water supplies. Moreover, Atishi, a senior official, announced a dedicated helpline number, ‘1916’, for residents to request water tankers, ensuring that immediate needs can be met efficiently.

Political Appeals and Cross-State Dependencies

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who returned from Tihar Jail on June 2, urged the BJP to leverage its influence over its governments in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to secure additional water for Delhi. Highlighting the severity of the situation, Kejriwal tweeted, “If the BJP talks to its governments in Haryana and UP and gets some water for Delhi for a month, then the people of Delhi will greatly appreciate this step of the BJP. Such scorching heat is not in anyone’s control. But if we all work together, can we provide relief to the people from this?”

Water Sources and Distribution Challenges

Delhi heavily relies on its neighboring states to meet approximately 90% of its drinking water requirements. The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) specifies that the capital’s raw water supply is sourced from four main avenues: 40% from the Yamuna (via Haryana), 25% from the Ganga, 22% from the Bhakra Nangal Dam, and 13% from subsurface sources like ranney wells and tube wells.

This water is processed at nine treatment plants before being distributed through a sprawling 15,473 km pipeline network and underground reservoirs. However, DJB’s Summer Bulletin highlighted that from May 21 to May 31, Delhi’s total water production fluctuated between 977.79 and 993.76 million gallons per day (MGD), falling significantly short of the daily demand of 1,290 MGD, equating to 60 gallons per capita.

Quality Concerns and Pollution Issues

Water quality remains a significant concern in several areas, with alarming levels of ammonia (over 2.5 ppm) and toxic waste from industrial drains contaminating the Yamuna river. Despite the monitoring efforts by pollution control boards and interventions by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Yamuna continues to be one of India’s most polluted rivers, severely impacting Delhi’s clean water supply.


The Supreme Court’s intervention and the cooperative measures among state governments represent crucial steps towards alleviating Delhi’s water crisis. However, sustained efforts in water conservation, pollution control, and infrastructure development are essential to ensure a stable and safe water supply for the residents of Delhi.

Read more latest news on R9 News

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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