Two children, aged 16 and 18 years, take position and plunge into the water right next to a signpost that clearly prohibits diving.
After spending half an hour in the Munak Canal, they come out and say: “If we stop the water from here, your city (Delhi) will die of thirst.”
Even children in the area around Munak in Haryana know what the canal water means to Delhi.
The canal has been a sore point between Haryana and Delhi for over a decade now with the tussle over the amount of water Delhi is supposed to get reaching even the Supreme Court. Delhi recently started getting water from Haryana after the court orders.
The tussle is complicated but a visit to the Munak Canal’s origin point clears the picture to some extent and throws light on some problems as well.
The record books at the office near the canal shows that 750 cusecs of water is being released everyday from here in the past one month, breathing life into the canal and the areas that surround it.
“We have got orders from the authorities to release at least 719 cusecs of water in the newly constructed Munak Carrier Lined Channel (CLC) at any cost,” said Shiv Charan Sharma, the official deployed at the Haryana irrigation department office that controls the water released to Delhi.
As per the Delhi High Court’s order, Haryana should supply 719 cusecs of water to the Munak CLC.
When asked how much water is flowing in the Delhi sub-branch canal, which runs parallel to the CLC, he said: “In the past one month, it has been between 17,000 and 18,000 cusecs. It entirely depends on the demand and the instructions we get from senior authorities of the state. It could even be stopped.”
As one moves further, there are boards with instructions that the canal water should not be used for bathing purposes but people use it to even clean their buffaloes. There are at least seven such points from Karnal to Bawana.
The problem gets worse when the water reaches Delhi through the Delhi sub-branch canal, also known as old canal — silt, garbage, puja items, plastic bags, lack of security for water meters, etc.
The canal urgently needs a barbed wire fence to prevent animals and humans from getting in.
The newly built CLC, on the other hand, has visibly clean water.
“It is very difficult to regulate the movement of people in the canal. “We have placed signages. We tell people not to dirty the canal or jump into it, but regulating it at all times is not easy,” DJB CEO SS Yadav said.