Dont' take us for granted: SC slams Delhi govt for not rectifying defects in water scarcity plea

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New Delhi: Do not take us for granted, the Supreme Court on Monday said, slamming the Delhi government for not rectifying defects in its plea seeking a direction to Haryana to release the surplus water provided by Himachal Pradesh to the national capital to mitigate its water crisis.

A vacation bench of Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Justice Prasanna B Varale noted that affidavits are not being accepted in the registry due to the defect in the petition filed by the Delhi government.

"Why have you not cured the defect? We will dismiss the petition. On the last date also this was pointed out and you did not remove the defect. Don't take the court proceedings for granted, however important your case may be.

"Never take us for granted. Filings are not being accepted. You straightaway hand over a series of documents in court and then you say you are suffering a deficit of water and pass an order today itself. You are raising all grounds of urgency and sitting leisurely. Let everything come on record. We will take it the day after tomorrow," the bench said while adjourning the matter to June 12.

The top court said it wants to read the files before the matter is heard as there are so many things being reported in the newspaper.

"If we don't read the files at our residential office we will be impressed by whatever the newspapers are reporting. That is not good for any of the parties," the bench said.

At the outset, senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for Haryana, submitted the reply filed by the state government. The apex court asked Divan why did he file the reply now.

Divan replied that since the defects in the Delhi government's plea have not been rectified, pre-filing of the reply was not permitted by the registry.

The top court then rebuked the Delhi government. The counsel for the Delhi government submitted that defects have been removed.

The acute shortage of drinking water has become an "existential problem" in Delhi, the top court had earlier observed and directed the Himachal Pradesh government to release 137 cusecs of surplus water to the national capital on Friday and Haryana to facilitate its flow.

The apex court had also said there should be no politics over water.

It had noted that the Himachal Pradesh government was willing to release 137 cusecs of surplus water available with it for Delhi. One cusec (cubic foot per second) is equal to 28.317 litres of liquid flow every second.

"Since Himachal Pradesh has no objection and is ready and willing to release the surplus water available with it, we direct that Himachal Pradesh shall release 137 cusecs of surplus water available with it from the upstream so that the water reaches Hathnikund barrage and reaches Delhi through Wazirabad," the bench had said.

Considering the urgency of the matter, the apex court had directed Himachal Pradesh to release the water on June 7 with prior intimation to Haryana. It had said the Upper Yamuna River Board (UYRB) shall measure the excess water which comes to Hathnikund for its onward supply to Wazirabad and Delhi.

While hearing the matter on June 3, the apex court had asked for an emergent meeting of the UYRB on June 5 to address the issue.

The UYRB was set up in 1995 with one of its main functions to regulate the allocation of available flows amongst the beneficiary states and also monitor and review the progress of all projects up to and including the Okhla barrage in Delhi. The beneficiary states include Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi.

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