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  • 15 July, 2021

  • 4 Min Read

Delhi Water Crisis Issue

Delhi Water Crisis Issue

Haryana releases 16,000 cusecs water for Delhi amidst the water shortage in the capital. Delhi Jal Board (DJB) vice-chairman Raghav Chadha blamed the Haryana government for triggering a “severe water crisis” in the national capital, and exhorted the neighbouring state to adhere to orders by the Supreme court on water sharing.

What’s the Issue?

  • Delhi receives water from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana. The largest share of water comes from Haryana via the Yamuna through three different channels.
  • Since Delhi gets the largest share of water from the Yamuna, it has been a contentious issue for a long time between Delhi and Haryana.
  • In 1994, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the five basin States of the Yamuna, including Delhi and Haryana, for sharing of water of upper Yamuna.
  • However, Delhi and Haryana have been at loggerheads over the allocation of Yamuna water especially during summers with Delhi complaining that it is getting less water from Haryana and the latter denying the facts most of the times.

  • At present, Delhi receives 479 million gallons water a day (MGD) against 609 MGD from Haryana. Besides, the city draws 90 MGD groundwater and receives 250 MGD from the Upper Ganga Canal, according to official figures.
  • The daily requirement of water in Delhi is 1,150 MGD but the DJB supplies only around 950 MGD and there is a shortfall of 200 MGD, the figures show.
  • The Haryana government released 16,000 cusecs (the share of water the Capital is legally entitled to) of water to Delhi, two days after the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government filed a petition in the Supreme Court.

Haryana Government’s Stance

  • Less water in the Yamuna river due to delay in the arrival of the monsoon and government’s mismanagement has led to water shortage in the National Capital, claimed the Haryana government.
  • The Manohar Lal Khattar-led government also said the water supply to Delhi is being maintained even though Haryana is facing scarcity, with 40 percent less water in the Yamuna river.
  • Haryana is continuously providing 1,049 cusecs of water at Munak through its canal system to Delhi the quantity of which is 950 cusecs of water at Bawana contact point.

Water Crisis in India

  • India constitutes 16 per cent of the world’s population, but the country has only four per cent of the world’s freshwater resources. With the changing weather patterns and recurring droughts, India is water stressed.

  • India’s water crisis is often attributed to lack of government planning, increased corporate privatization, industrial and human waste and government corruption.
  • As many as 256 of 700 districts have reported ‘critical’ or ‘over-exploited’ groundwater levels, according to the latest data from the Central Ground Water Board (2017).
  • In addition, water scarcity in India is expected to worsen as the overall population is expected to increase to 1.6 billion by year 2050.
  • In India, some regions have an excess amount of water for their needs or requirements while some regions are facing droughts or have less amount of water simultaneously.
  • Traditional techniques of the water irrigation resulted in the loss of water due to evaporation, drainage, excess use of groundwater, etc.
  • Rapid urbanization, industrialization, population growth, demand for domestic use increases the demand for water in India.
  • During the monsoon season the desilting operations of the water bodies, dams, etc are not done at the time affecting the water storage capacity of India.
  • Poor legislation on groundwater extraction, political reasons for not valuing water, etc. enhance water scarcity in India.


  • Rain water harvesting– Check Dams, Convergence between MGNREGA and water conservation, Desilting of ponds and water bodies. Conservation agriculture- Artificial and Natural Mulching, Zero Tillage.
  • Micro irrigation (MI) systems (sprinkler, drip) promote precision farming by making water available to root zone of crops. MI holds immense potential in addressing dual challenges – Sustainability and Declining Income Levels.
  • The urban needs, which underpin much reporting on ‘water crises’, need to be met by robust long-term planning and preparation for droughts and other contingencies.
  • Agricultural universities should take a lead in advising farmers on suitable cropping patterns, taking into account soil and other climatic conditions of a region, to save water.
  • The practice of providing free or subsidised water and power to farmers must be stopped. Small and marginal farmers can be compensated for their loss by increasing the MSP for their produce.

Water in the Constitution of India

  • Water is a State subject as per entry 17 of State List and thus states are empowered to enact legislation on water.
  • Entry 17 of State List deals with water i.e. water supply, irrigation, canal, drainage, embankments, water storage and water power.
  • Entry 56 of Union List gives power to the Union Government for the regulation and development of inter-state rivers and river valleys to the extent declared by Parliament to be expedient in the public interest.
  • Article 262 also states that the Parliament may provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-State river or river valley.
    • River Board Act, 1956- The purpose of this Act was to enable the Union Government to create Boards for Interstate Rivers and river valleys in consultation with State Governments.
    • Inter-State Water Dispute Act, 1956- In case, if a particular state or states approach to Union Government for the constitution of the tribunal:
      • Central Government should try to resolve the matter by consultation among the aggrieved states.
      • In case, if it does not work, then it may constitute the tribunal.

Click to read about Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Source: TH

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