Delhi Lt Governor, AAP Tussle Over Delhi's Water Supply

Reacting to the letter, Delhi Water Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj accused the L-G of "playing dirty politics over the sensitive issue of water supply".

Delhi Lt Governor, AAP Tussle Over Delhi's Water Supply

Delhi Lt Governor VK Saxena has asked CM Arvind Kejriwal to intervene. (Representational)

New Delhi:

Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena has written to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, flagging the "miserable hygiene and sanitary conditions" at the Wazirabad Water Treatment Plant which supplies drinking water to large parts of the national capital.

Reacting to the letter, Delhi Water Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj accused the L-G of "playing dirty politics over the sensitive issue of water supply" and claimed that illegal sand mining in Haryana was blocking the supply of Yamuna water towards the national capital.

In what could trigger a fresh tussle between the L-G and the AAP government, Mr Saxena also spoke about Delhi Jal Board's "gross inaction" in cleaning and desilting the reservoir pond behind the Wazirabad barrage which supplies water to Wazirabad and Chandrawal Water Treatment Plants.

He claimed that Delhi lost over nine lakh million gallons of water because the pond was not desilted.

"It is with a sense of deep distress that I seek your urgent intervention into the state of affairs prevalent at the Wazirabad Water Treatment Plant (WTP) and the feeder pond area at Wazirabad Barrage, that feeds the Wazirabad and Chandrawal WTPs," the L-G's letter read.

Mentioning his visit to the area on March 9, Mr Saxena said he witnessed "grave dereliction and criminal neglect" of the WTP and the pond area which is resulting in a "totally avoidable water shortage".

The plant itself is marred by rusted and trash-ridden reservoirs, corroded pipelines, silt-covered equipment and power-guzzling water pumps, the letter alleged.

"Despite a desilting contract being in place since 2013, no de-siltation took place resulting in the depth of the pond reducing from 4.26 metres to a mere 0.42 metres during the last eight years," Mr Saxena said.

In the letter, he noted that the desilting work was stopped due to a stay order from the National Green Tribunal in September 2014 and was restarted after the stay was lifted in 2015.

"It is worth underlining here that while in about nine months between 2013 and 2014, five lakh cubic metres of silt was removed, after lifting of the stay by hon'ble NGT, in the period between 2015 to 2018, just 1.1 cubic metres of silt was removed.

"Even thereafter, despite no work happening, it took the DJB about four years to terminate the contract as late as February 2022," the LG said.

The pond kept getting silted and shrunk. Of the 6.1 lakh cubic metres of silt removed between the dates when there was no stay on desilting, "good silt" amounting to about three lakh cubic metres was sold by the contractor and the remaining was left at the site, which thereafter, reclogged the pond area, Mr Saxena claimed.

"In addition to this, natural siltation also kept taking place and progressively led to further shrinking of the pond, thereby proportionately reducing Delhi's capacity to hold and store water - so essential to maintaining its supply, especially during time susceptible to the shortage," he said.

Mr Saxena, in his letter, said that Delhi is now faced with a situation wherein silt amounting to about 10 lakh cubic metres is yet again clogging the pond area, reducing its holding capacity.

"A back-of-the-envelope calculation would bring out that during the last 10 years, owing to the siltation of the pond area, Delhi, a territory almost exclusively dependent upon other states for its water needs, let nearly 9,12,500 million gallons of water literally flow down the river.

"Had the pond storage area been functional to its full capacity, this water would have come to the use of the people of Delhi. One is forced to wonder here as to what level of mismanagement was done on the part of DJB to effect such acute wastage," the L-G's letter read.

The pond had the capacity to hold 250 million gallons of water, but it has now reduced by 93 per cent due to siltation and can now hold only 16 million gallons, Mr Saxena claimed.

"Frequent water shortage in the city, including the one before Holi, on account of Wazirabad and Chandrawal water treatment plants not being fully operational is solely due to this reason and not due to the Haryana Excuses that AAP makes to fool the people," the letter alleged.

Mr Saxena, in his letter to Mr Kejriwal, advised immediate desilting and cleaning of the pond area and upgradation of the water treatment plant.

"It would also be essential that strict action is initiated against officials responsible for this gross dereliction of duty and criminal misconduct," the letter read.

"It is also recommended that visits aimed at supervision and monitoring be undertaken on a regular basis by authorities to identify shortcomings and rectify the same in a concurrent manner," it added.

In the letter, the LG also posed several questions, including what kind of water is being supplied to the people of Delhi, what is its quality and whether is it really potable.

Reacting to the accusations, Water Minister and Delhi Jal Board Chairman Saurabh Bharadwaj asked the LG to take cognisance of illegal sand mining in Haryana.

He claimed that illegal sand mining in Haryana has been blocking the supply of Yamuna river's water towards the national capital and the state is instead releasing industrial wastewater towards Delhi.

Mr Bharadwaj invited Mr Saxena on a joint inspection of these illegal sand mining blocks in Haryana.

"The people of Delhi feel extremely sad that the Hon'ble LG is playing dirty politics over the sensitive issue of water supply in Delhi. Either he is unaware of the facts or he is deliberately doing cheap politics.

"The issue raised by him is due to the inefficiency and inaction of the Haryana government because of which the people of Delhi are suffering. The Hon'ble LG is trying to pass the buck of BJP-ruled Haryana's fault on the Delhi government," he said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)