Why should we do the job of an expert body, asks Supreme Court bench
New Delhi: The Haryana government on Wednesday assured the Supreme Court that it will not disrupt the supply of Yamuna water to Delhi till Monday, as the court asked the Delhi government to approach the Upper Yamuna River Board (UYRB) for adjudication on the water-sharing dispute between the two.
A bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur asked the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to make a request to Haryana on Wednesday itself, after which Haryana would take a decision on the amount of water to be released to Delhi till Monday next.
The apex court also pulled up the DJB for approaching the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the Delhi High Court against Haryana on water sharing, as the issue has to be decided by the UYRB, a statutory body.
"You can always go to the board; it's an expert body set up particularly for this purpose. Why should we do the job of an expert body?" the bench asked.
"We expect the board to meet and sort out the matter amicably between Delhi and Haryana," it added.
The DJB had approached the court, saying it has not been receiving sufficient water from Haryana. It withdrew its plea.
The UYRB told the court that it had constituted a committee to study the river flow and water sharing among the riparian states.
The Centre set up the board primarily to regulate allocation of available water among the six beneficiary basin states and also for monitoring the return flow.
On an earlier hearing, the apex court had slammed the UYRB for not doing its job on distribution of river water and asked why the courts should do the work the board was supposed to do.
As the DJB repeatedly requested that status quo on water supply be maintained, the apex court bench directed it to make the request to Haryana as it's been "very reasonable" in its approach on sharing of Yamuna water with Delhi.
The bench was hearing a DJB plea against a daily shortfall of 120 cusecs of water from the Yamuna.
The DJB had also sought instructions to Haryana to supply 450 cusecs of potable water daily to Delhi, as agreed between the two states.
Haryana was supplying only 330 cusecs of water daily to Delhi as against 450 cusecs per day, the DJB petition said.
The Haryana government had earlier told the top court that it was facing "huge distress", but would continue to supply water.
With Delhi facing a water shortage, the DJB had moved the Supreme Court for directions to Haryana to release adequate water to the Wazirabad reservoir, alleging that the Yamuna water supply had been reduced by one third.
"Delhi is in the midst of an acute water crisis owing to stop in supply of water by Haryana into the Yamuna, which is meant for drinking purposes in Delhi," the DJB plea said.
The DJB's water treatment plants have been functioning below capacity over the past few weeks due to a drop in the Yamuna level and release of polluted water from Haryana that could not be treated, it added.
Yamuna water sharing between Delhi and Haryana has been a contentious issue for decades and the apex court had ordered Haryana in February 1996 to release 450 cusecs of water daily to Delhi.