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Atishi begins indefinite fast over water crisis in Capital

It’s a ‘sham’, says BJP about Water Minister’s ‘satyagraha’

Atishi begins indefinite fast over water crisis in Capital

Water Minister Atishi with AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh during her hunger strike on Friday. PTI



Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 21

Water Minister Atishi on Friday began her ‘Pani Satyagraha’ (hunger strike), demanding the release of more Yamuna water for the city from Haryana.

She began her journey at 10.45 am with a visit to CM Arvind Kejriwal’s residence to meet his family. Later, she went to Rajghat to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi and then arrived at Bhogal in Jangpura at the protest site.

Addressing the crowd, Atishi said, “Delhi is dependent on neighbouring states for water. Delhi should get 1,005 MGD water daily. Out of this, Haryana gave 613 MGD water, but for the last two weeks, Haryana has given only 513 MGD water. More than 28 lakh people face shortage when Haryana stops 100 MGD of water. Haryana has further reduced Delhi’s water share by 120 MGD in the last two days.”

AAP leaders said Atishi would sit at the stage set up for her indefinite hunger strike at a community hall in Bhogal for two hours each in the morning and evening. She will rest in a room at the community centre for the rest of the day.

Atishi said she would not eat anything until Haryana releases Delhi’s rightful share of Yamuna water.

Atishi said her appeal to the Haryana Government and a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for help did not yield any result.

AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh said, the “cruel” BJP government in Haryana was making Delhi’s people crave for water during the intense heat, he alleged.

BJP MPs criticised Atishi, calling her ongoing satyagraha a “sham” and an attempt to cover up her inaction in addressing the city’s water crisis.

MP Bansuri Swaraj accused Atishi of being an “unsuccessful Water Minister,” highlighting her lack of preparation for the summer heat that had been forecast since February.

“Atishi is an unsuccessful Water Minister. It was clear since February this year that Delhi would endure a long summer, but Atishi made no preparations,” Swaraj said.

Highlighting infrastructural issues, Swaraj accused Atishi of neglecting the storage capacity at the Wazirabad barrage plant and the Sonia Vihar and Okhla water plants, which are filled with silt up to 95 per cent.

Swaraj also alleged that many AAP workers operate water tankers in Delhi and are involved in water theft from the Munak Canal and illegal groundwater extraction. She criticised Atishi for not taking action against illegal tankers, including those linked to MLA Bhavana Gaur’s associates, as revealed by the BJP president last week.

Supporting Swaraj’s claims, MP Ramvir Singh Bidhuri called Atishi’s sit-in protest another “political drama.” He criticised the minister for not focusing on resolving the water crisis, arguing that if as much time and energy had been spent on resolving Delhi’s water crisis as on the protest, people of Delhi would not be suffering from thirst.

Bidhuri noted that Delhi’s water either comes from the mountains of Himachal or the Bhakra Dam in Punjab, accusing Atishi of protesting against Haryana to tarnish its image instead of requesting additional water from states where the AAP holds influence.

He criticised the Delhi government for not desilting water treatment plants in 10 years and for allowing water tanker mafias to steal Delhi’s water.

MP Manoj Tiwari also criticised Atishi’s indefinite hunger strike, questioning her responsibility as the Water Minister. “You are the Water Minister, it is your responsibility to provide water to the citizens. There is no scarcity of water, one can visit Sonia Vihar and Munak Nahar. Jal Board is the organisation that wastes water, it doesn’t repair pipes. The AAP is selling water to tanker mafia. Who are you sitting (on strike) against?” Tiwari asked.

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