Uttar Pradesh backed out from a plan to provide 140 million gallons per day (MGD) of raw water to Delhi in lieu of an equivalent quantity of treated effluent for irrigation despite the Lieutenant Governor making a request to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, according to an RTI reply.
The plan involved the supply of 270 cusecs (1 cusec is equal to 1 cubic feet per second) of fresh water from the Murad Nagar Regulator to the Sonia Vihar water treatment plant in Delhi and the release of an equivalent quantity of treated effluent from the Okhla sewage treatment plant in the Agra Canal.
Documents accessed under the Right to Information Act showed that the two states held multiple meetings on the water exchange plan starting May 3, 2018, and the then LG Anil Baijal and the then chief secretary Vijay Kumar Dev had also requested the UP government to finalise the agreement.
A feasibility report the UP Jal Nigam sent to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) on July 1, 2020, said the project was workable.
The DJB had paid Rs 70 lakh for the preparation of the feasibility report and the Delhi government had also agreed to bear the cost of laying pipelines and construction and repair work needed for the supply of raw water from UP and the release of treated effluent into the Agra Canal.
Baijal discussed the issue with the UP chief minister on the phone on June 14 last year and wrote to him on June 23, requesting him to issue directions to the department concerned to provide 270 cusecs (140 million gallons a day) of raw water to Delhi from Murad Nagar, the documents showed.
“Delhi does not have enough water resources of its own and depends on neighbouring states to meet its drinking water needs. Amid the increasing population, Delhi needs 265 MGD of additional raw water to fulfil the requirement. The feasibility report dated July 1, 2020, says it is possible for UP to provide 270 cusecs of raw water to Delhi. Therefore, I request you to please issue necessary directions to the department concerned in this regard,” the LG’s letter read.
On February 2 last year, Vijay Kumar Dev wrote to the UP chief secretary, requesting him to finalise the pact.
“I would like to thank you for the positive steps taken towards processing the request of Delhi…The offices of both states have held various meetings, joint inspections and deliberations to take the matter forward. May I propose that the general understanding and consensus achieved by both the states till date may be formalised by way of a memorandum for understanding,” Dev wrote to UP Chief Secretary R K Tiwari.
However, the executive engineer of the UP government in a letter dated July 9, 2021, informed the DJB that the “competent authority” did not approve the feasibility report and “it may be treated null and void.”
The UP government also returned Rs 70 lakh that the DJB gave for the preparation of the report without citing any reason for backing out from the plan, the RTI reply showed.
The documents showed the DJB later asked the Delhi government that “intervention and persuasion at the highest political level be done for seeking consent of the UP government” but the request did not elicit a response.
Delhi requires around 1,200 MGD of water, while the DJB supplies around 950 MGD.
Haryana supplies a total of 610 MGD of water to Delhi through two canals — CLC (368 MGD) and DSB (177) — and the Yamuna (65 MGD).
CLC and the DSB are supplied water from Hathni Kund via the Munak canal and the Bhakra Beas Management Board.
Besides, Delhi receives 253 MGD from Uttar Pradesh through the Upper Ganga Canal, and 90 MGD is drawn from Ranney wells and tube wells installed across the city.