Yamuna: Supreme Courts asks Centre, Haryana to make submissions

The Centre on Tuesday accused Delhi of being a “habitual offender” in polluting the waters of Yamuna.

Haryana, on the other hand, objected to Delhi’s accusations about it releasing untreated effluents into the river due to faulty treatment plants, saying the “problem is not with Haryana, but within Delhi”.

A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde gave Haryana a week’s time to file its affidavit. The Centre has also been asked to place on record its views.

The Bench was hearing an urgent petition filed by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), represented by advocate Shadan Farasat, to “immediately stop” Haryana from discharging pollutants into the Yamuna, which is causing an alarming increase in the ammonia levels. The Board said the increased ammonia levels have impaired its water treatment plants and a drinking water and health crises loom large over Delhi.

The DJB said the National Capital’s woes were made worse with Haryana not releasing the full quantity of water entitled to Delhi at Wazirabad. Instead of releasing at least 450 cusecs downstream from Wazirabad, only 330 cusecs have been released.

“Due to lesser water being released, the concentration of ammonia in the water reaching Delhi has increased,” the DJB said.

Countering these allegations, senior advocate Shyam Divan, for Haryana, said the DJB petition was not “maintainable at all”.

“We are supplying from our share of water far more than what is required. What the DJB is saying is completely incorrect. I need a week’s time to put in a response,” Mr. Divan submitted on Tuesday.

The DJB petition had said the “actions/inactions constitute a violation of the principle of co-operative federalism. It amounts to an upper riparian State taking undue advantage of a shared river for irrigation and industrial purposes while effectively not allowing a lower riparian State to access water for drinking”.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, for the Centre, said Delhi was a “habitual offender”.

Senior advocate and amicus curiae Meenakshi Arora intervened to say the case should focus on “what States are doing as regards the pollution of water” rather than restrict itself to the quantum of water shared between Haryana and Delhi.

Ms. Arora said the amount of ammonia in the Yamuna has considerably lowered to .3 ppm as on January 18. The tolerable level is .9 ppm.

“The water quality was excellent on January 18. This shows that the existing sewage treatment plants (STPs) can be used in the best way. This shows that where there is a will, there is a way,” she said.

She said Haryana is working on establishing a large number of STPs and Common Effluent Treatment Plants. The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year, but it may spill over.

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