Delhi water crisis: Supreme Court warns Himachal Pradesh of contempt of court action for flip-flop : The Tribune India

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Delhi water crisis: Supreme Court warns Himachal Pradesh of contempt of court action for flip-flop

Himachal Pradesh Advocate General Anup Kumar Rattan withdraws state government’s earlier statement on ‘availability’ of surplus water to be supplied to Delhi via Haryana

Delhi water crisis: Supreme Court warns Himachal Pradesh of contempt of court action for flip-flop

Photo for representational purpose only. PTI file



Tribune News Service

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, June 13

The Himachal Pradesh Government’s flip-flop on 137 cusec unutilised surplus water it had agreed to give to Delhi invited the wrath of the Supreme Court which warned its officials of contempt of court action for making contradictory statements before it.

Such was the anger of a Vacation Bench of Justice PK Mishra and Justice PB Varale that Himachal Pradesh Advocate General Anup Kumar Rattan had to withdraw the state government’s earlier statement on “availability” of surplus water to be supplied to Delhi via Haryana.

Basing on the statements made by Himachal Pradesh Additional Advocate General that the state had 137 cusecs surplus water which would be released, the top court had on June 6 directed that “the State of Himachal Pradesh shall release 137 cusecs available with it from the upstream so that the water reaches Hathni Kund Barrage and then reaches Delhi through Wazirabad.”

However, when Haryana communicated and requested Himachal Pradesh to inform them about the release of additional 137 cusecs of water as per this court’s order, the Himachal Jal Shakti Vibhag informed the Engineer-in-Chief, Haryana, Irrigation Department, on June 6, 2024, that 137 cusecs of unutilised Yamuna water share of Himachal was already flowing uninterruptedly from its territory to Tajewala (Hathni Kund Barrage) in the Yamuna river.

“The officer who has supplied that chart is saying that we have excess water of 137 cusecs and the Additional AG was not properly apprised of the situation. Now, you are issuing a letter that 137 cusecs is already in the pipeline ... . If you have excess water and you are not supplying that excess water, you are in contempt,” the Bench noted.

When the Bench made a pointed query to Rattan as to the manner in which he would reconcile the statement made before the top court by his Additional Advocate General under instructions of the Engineer-in-Chief and the contents of the communication dated June 6, 2024, the Advocate General said the earlier statement regarding “availability” of surplus/additional water was not correct and that he should be permitted to withdraw that statement.

Rattan said in view of the contents of the communication dated June 6, 2024, the State of Himachal Pradesh did not have additional 137 cusecs water as on date.

“You do not understand the repercussions of your statement to cover up the earlier statement….made such a casual statement before the court without understanding the ramifications,” Justice Mishra said.

“In view of the statement made by learned Advocate General for Himachal Pradesh before this court today, the very basis of our interim order dated June 6, 2024, does not survive and we have reached to the stage where we were placed on the date of filing of the writ petition,” the Bench said.

Finally, it asked the Delhi Government to approach the Upper Yamuna River Board for additional 150 cusecs water.

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