Delhi: Lowest water level of Yamuna at Wazirabad barrage since 1965
Delhi Jal Board (DJB) vice-chairperson Raghav Chadha on Monday said the water level of the Yamuna at the Wazirabad barrage dipped to its lowest mark since 1965 and blamed Haryana for shortages that squeezed supply in central, south, west and New Delhi for a second consecutive day.
The allegations prompted a strong denial from Haryana, which said that Delhi’s charges of withholding water were baseless and accused the Capital’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of mismanagement.
The political tussle came a day after the DJB approached the Supreme Court, seeking directions to the Haryana government to release Delhi’s share of Yamuna water, which stands at 120 MGD (million gallons per day) .
On Monday, DJB officials said the level at Wazirabad pond went down from a normal level of 674.5 feet to 667 feet.
Chadha, who visited the Wazirabad pond to review the situation on Monday alleged that the Haryana government didn’t release at least 120 MGD and this led to a water crisis in the Capital.
The Wazirabad pond is the most important water reservoir in Delhi, and one of the major sources of water for north and west Delhi.
The Yamuna enters Delhi at Palla, 15km upstream of Wazirabad barrage, which acts as the main reservoir for Delhi.
Chadha claimed that it was the first time since 1965 that water level in the river Yamuna fell by 7.5 feet. “This is the first time since 1965 that Yamuna’s levels have fallen so low that it has affected the production of 100 million gallons per day (MGD) of water every day over the past week,” Chadha said.
To be sure, Delhi’s daily water demand is 1,150 MGD, and the normal daily supply is 950MGD. Currently, the city’s water treatment plants are producing less than 900 MGD, according to DJB officials.
The officials said that in 1996, the Supreme Court told the Haryana government and other states to share Yamuna’s water to ensure that there was no shortage of drinking water in Delhi. “Since then it has not gone as low as it was on Monday, even during a delayed monsoon,” said a senior DJB official, requesting anonymity.
Monsoon has been delayed by at least a fortnight in Delhi. According to the IMD, the normal date for monsoon’s arrival in the city is June 27.
“The water treatment plants in Delhi are operating at a reduced capacity because of a less discharge of raw water from Haryana. With Haryana withholding Delhi’s share of water, the Yamuna has dried up...so much that it can be used as a cricket or a hockey field,” Chadha said.
“Delhi is a landlocked city and relies on its neighbouring states for water supply. Uttar Pradesh supplies to us a share of the Ganga water, Haryana of the Yamuna water, we get some from Punjab through (the) Bhakra Nangal (dam). The biggest share of this is supposed to be supplied by Haryana,” he added. Even if the water level in the Yamuna goes down by a foot, it causes havoc in the capital, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader said.
Haryana home minister Anil Vij dismissed Chadha’s allegations. “First, they (AAP government) presented false figures during Covid second wave to procure oxygen, much above the requirement, and now Kejriwal is doing the same on the water issue to hide his own failures. They are levelling baseless allegations,” Vij said.
The senior Haryana minister accused the AAP government of “misleading the people of Delhi to cover up their own mismanagement”.
Delhi receives Yamuna water from Haryana at three places --- the CLC Channel, DSB Channel, and the Wazirabad pond.
The water production has been primarily hit at the Wazirabad and Chandrawal water treatment plants (WTPs).
Several areas in the Capital had to go without regular supply on Monday, and residents relied on DJB tankers. Affected areas include Vasant Vihar, Kailash Colony, Nehru Nagar, Karol Bagh, Pusa Road, Greater Kailash, Prem Nagar, Old and New Rajendra Nagar, Punjabi Bagh, Moolchand, Jahangirpuri, Sangam Vihar and Tughlakabad, among others.
Suresh Goel, a resident of Vasant Vihar, said water supply has remained at low pressure for the last five days. “The main tank, which supplies water to the area, has not had enough supply. This afternoon, water supply did start but the pressure was very low. People have been calling private water tankers to fulfil daily needs,” said Goel.
Atul Goyal, a resident of Karol Bagh and president of the United Residents Joint Action (URJA), an umbrella body of city resident welfare groups, said water supply has been too low in several parts of Delhi.
“I have been getting calls from different pockets over low or no supply. Every summer there is a shortage. We don’t want a political blame game. It is the city government’s responsibility to provide water to its residents. They must have a contingency plan like all other states do where they have water stored in reservoirs. The Delhi government must use it to supply water to affected areas,” said Goyal.