Jat agitation in Haryana gives Delhi a water scare, exposes its vulnerability

With indications from the Haryana government that reservations in government jobs will be extended to the Jat community, Delhi can expect to get its water crisis resolved in the next 24 hours to a certain extent. However, with a section of the protesters insisting on an ordinance before they call off stir Delhi could face a severe water problem.

On Sunday, residents of Delhi got the first experience of it when they faced a cut in water supply. In several parts of the national capital the supply time was curtailed and the residents received less water than on a normal day. Many didn’t know the reason but by 10 am it became evident that for the next three to four days, the city would face severe water crisis. This was thanks to agitators from the Jat community, due to whom the Munak Canal in Haryana, which supplies water to large parts of Delhi, has been forcibly shut down after it was vandalized.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called an emergency meeting of the cabinet to find ways to handle the crisis. After the meeting, he appealed citizens to save water.

 Jat agitation in Haryana gives Delhi a water scare, exposes its vulnerability

Members of the Jat community during a protest. File photo. PTI

“Delhi is facing a very serious water crisis. I’ve spoken to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the need to restore water supply to Delhi at the earliest. I requested them to send the Army to Munak canal. They may be trying to do it. But even if the water supply is restored now, it will take 24 hours to reach the water treatment plants in Delhi. Water is to be equally rationed amongst all,” said Kejriwal.

Delhi’s Water Supply Minister Kapil Mishra said, “Supply of water has been severely disrupted due to the damage caused to Munak canal. There will be no water supply after 8 am as only two water treatment plants are operational. Water supply will hit in large parts of Delhi, including areas covered by New Delhi Municipal Council, the civic body that covers the VIP area of the capital.”

The government has announced that all schools in Delhi would remain shut on Monday due to the water crisis. “Knowing the severity of the situation, the Haryana government should have taken precautions to prevent this crisis. Now the water in the Munak canal has been diverted and instead of flowing to Delhi, it’s going elsewhere. The water meant for Delhi is getting wasted. The barrages have been closed and the entire water supply now flowing to Yamuna link,” a former DJB official remarked.

The Delhi government has ensured supply of water through tankers to those areas, where water couldn’t be supplied through pipes.

“The Delhi government has been working on a war-footing to tackle this water crisis. Right from moving to the Supreme Court, meeting Home Minister, ensuring water supply on rationing basis, the government is working out plans to solve the crisis as early as possible. Only two plants are functioning and Delhi has around 800 tankers. The water supply minister is having meetings with all those concerned including DJB to minimise the crisis,” Aam Aadmi Party’s senior leader and Delhi unit convener, Dilip Pandey told Firstpost.

“The best thing is that now the Army has taken control of Munak canal but it will take some time to repair the damages made to it. Even, if things get restored by today night, it’ll take 19-20 hours to get back to normalcy, because water would be treated and then supplied,” Pandey added.

The government has received complaints of low and no water supply from several areas like Vasant Kunj, Palam, Dwarka, Munirka, Rajouri Garden, etc. However, there has been a common complaint made by citizens that DJB employees didn’t respond to phone calls.

“Though the government has said that DJB officials are on emergency duty, but no one is taking our calls. We made several calls to the numbers given on DJB website but none responded. What’s the use of grievance cell or the numbers given in the website, if they can’t respond in an emergency?” questioned Rajesh Dhir, a resident of Vasant Kunj.

Steps taken to combat the crisis
• The Delhi government has given exemptions to the President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, the Defence sector, hospitals and fire brigade.
• Leaves of all Delhi Jal Board employees have been cancelled.
• Water tankers have been put on job to supply water in the crisis areas where piped water couldn’t be supplied.
• Help from Traffic police force has taken to streamline the supply through tankers.
• Schools have been closed on Monday.

What Delhi will face?

• Delhi will face an unprecedented water crisis as more than 70% of its water supply has been badly hit.
• The north, west and central parts of Delhi receive supply from Haryana and as a result, by Sunday night these parts are likely to run dry. The east and south Delhi will face lesser impact.

Water arithmetic

• Demand: The national capital requires nearly 1200 MGD (unit million gallons) per day.
• Total supply in Delhi 900 MGD by Delhi Jal Board.
• Maximum supply over 60% is from Haryana (Munak Canal, Bhakra storage facility and Yamuna). The rest of the supply is from Uttar Pradesh (Upper Ganga Canal) and from local recycling plants, wells and tubewells.
• Water tankers: Nearly 800.

Celebrities appeal

Former cricketer Virendra Sehwag and Bollywood actor Randeep Hooda – both from Haryana have appealed  to the Jat agitators to cease violence immediately and restore normalcy.

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Updated Date: Feb 22, 2016 07:46:06 IST