The Supreme Court criticised the Delhi government on Monday for approaching the judiciary instead of working with neighbouring Haryana to resolve a crippling water crisis precipitated by rampaging Jat protesters damaging the controls of the city’s largest water supply canal.
“The Delhi government wants everything on platter; wants the court to interfere with governance issues,” the apex court said.
The top court’s reprimand came on a day Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that the army had cleared protesters from the Munak canal gates as vast swathes of central, north and west Delhi ran dry, with 423 tankers crisscrossing the city.
But the SC wasn’t impressed with the Aam Aadmi Party government’s response, telling water minister Kapil Mishra he should have worked out a solution with Haryana instead of being present in court.
Watch | Jat agitation hits Delhi, schools and water supply affected
“You ministers are sitting in the court instead of going to the field. You rest in AC chambers and you want order from the court,” the bench, headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said.
Kejriwal and Mishra held out hope of improved water supply after the city exhausted its reserves on Sunday but Haryana told the court it would take a week for the Munak canal to be repaired.
In the meantime, Haryana – Delhi’s biggest water source – will release 189 million gallons of water a day, roughly half of what the Munak canal supplies to the city. 50 million gallons out of this will be released by Monday evening.
The court asked the AAP administration to send a team of engineers and castigated the AAP government when it objected to Haryana’s claim that state officials and Delhi Jal Board personnel were working to resolve the crisis. It also asked for a status report from the Haryana government in two days.
Haryana has been racked by violence unleashed by thousands of Jat protesting for quotas in jobs and education. Angry mobs have blocked roads and railway tracks, ransacked shops and looted neighbourhoods. At least 15 people have died in the protests.
The demonstrations have affected the Capital, with multiple highways blocked and taps running dry. There was no water supply to central, west and north Delhi, including the Lutyens’ zone — the city’s power district – on Monday morning.
Water tankers were spotted at filling station in Bharti Nagar and they carried water to different areas — jhuggis in East Kidwai Nagar and Sanjay Camp, a municipal hospital at Moti Bagh, a bungalow on Ashoka Road and even went for a delivery to Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Piped water is only available to army installations, hospitals, fire brigade, Rashtrapati Bhavan and residences of the prime minister and chief justice of India. However, most of south and east Delhi residents have piped drinking water supply as these areas are supplied by Sonia Vihar and Bhagirathi treatment plants, fed by water from Uttar Pradesh.