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While Delhi Jal Board is submerged in scams, AAP Government focuses on attacking BJP govt in Haryana for the water crisis instead of cleaning its own house

While Delhi Jal Board data shows that it is receiving more than allocated water from Haryana, the AAP continues to blame BJP for the water crisis in Delhi

On 15th June, Aam Aadmi Party minister Atishi Marlena stated that the Delhi government had asked Haryana to release water on humanitarian grounds amidst a serious water shortage in the national capital. “Delhi government officers have also talked to Haryana government officers, and on all probability, a delegation of senior officers of Delhi will travel to Chandigarh and meet Haryana officers.” The AAP MLA added that Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh reiterated its willingness to supply water to Delhi during the Upper Yamuna River Board meeting on 14th June.

The Haryana govt had said that it possesses an excess of 130 cusecs of water from its portion of the Upper Yamuna River and Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, the chief minister, has promised his support to Delhi. But the Himachal Pradesh administration on 13th June took a U-turn and informed the Supreme Court that it did not have an excess of 136 cusecs of water and withdrew its previous assertion. They said that the water was already released and it was flowing uninterruptedly to the Hathnikund barrage.

The Delhi administration was then instructed by the court to ask for a water supply from the Upper Yamuna River Board (UYRB). The development came while the Supreme Court was hearing a plea filed by the Delhi government seeking a direction to Haryana to release the surplus water provided by Himachal Pradesh to the national capital to mitigate its water crisis.

The government of Delhi has also sought water from Haryana, as the Upper Yamuna River Board’s evaluation of the estimates would take some time. However, it has unleashed a barrage of attacks on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led administration in Haryana. On 10th June in a fresh tirade, Priyanka Kakkar, the AAP’s chief national spokesperson accused BJP of doing negative politics and cutting off the Yamuna’s water supply, resulting in a serious scarcity in Delhi.

At a press conference, she asserted that Delhi had not yet received the 137 cusecs that Himachal Pradesh had provided in response to a Supreme Court ruling. The national capital’s share of 1,050 cusecs, as per an agreement between the two states, has been lowered by 200 cusecs by the Haryana government, she alleged, in addition to suspending Delhi’s water supply from Himachal Pradesh. She also dragged Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Vinai Kumar Saxena, claiming he had an opportunity to ask Haryana to release the water through negotiation, but he chose not to do so.

AAP leaders also protested against the Haryana government on 10th June, alleging that it was denying the national capital its fair share of water. Kuldeep Kumar, AAP’s Delhi State Vice-President and MLA, along with colleagues Shiv Charan Goel, Vinayy Mishra, Somdutt Sharma, and Women’s Wing President Sarika Chaudhary, participated in the demonstration next to Haryana Bhawan, Mandi House. Protesters called for the central and Haryana governments to guarantee the prompt delivery of Delhi’s share of water and sang slogans denouncing the BJP for depriving the city of “its share.”

On 14th June, senior leader of the AAP and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh asked the newly elected BJP MPs in the capital and the centre to make a plea to the Haryana government to “bring water to Delhi.” He claimed that Haryana was “hell-bent on stopping the supply,” despite the Delhi government’s best efforts to guarantee a continuous water supply for the populace. “We want to tell the BJP government of Haryana that you can take out your enmity with us but why are you punishing the people of Delhi? The people of Delhi have elected seven BJP MPs, now where are those seven MPs? There is nothing more virtuous than providing water,” he alleged in a press conference.

Supreme Court lashes out at AAP

On 11th June, the Supreme Court severely criticized the Delhi administration for the ongoing problems pertaining to the water waste and tanker mafia in the city. Judges Prasanna B. Varale and Prashant Kumar Mishra on a vacation bench questioned the Delhi government’s attempts to address these issues and clarified that the court would order the Delhi Police to act if the government of Delhi did not deal with the tanker mafia. “Delhi tanker mafia is working, and you are not taking action and if the Delhi government can’t take action, then we can ask Delhi police to take action.”

The court asked, “Why were false statements made before this court? Water is coming from Himachal Pradesh, then where is the water going in Delhi? There is so much spillage, tanker mafias, etc. What measures have you taken in this regard? People are suffering, we are seeing visuals on every news channel. What measures have you taken to control water wastage if water scarcity is a recurring problem in summer? What have you done to prevent water wastage coming from all these sources? Have you taken any action or FIR against any tanker mafias? Tanker mafias get water and pipelines are running dry.”

BJP hits back at AAP

After the observations of the highest court, BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawala remarked, “After the liquor scam, we are now seeing a water scam by the AAP. The Supreme Court has exposed them. The court highlighted that there is no issue with the water supply itself but questioned why the water is being diverted through the tanker mafia and why no action is being taken against them.”

He added, “It is clear that the AAP is incompetent and has a dubious relationship with the water tanker mafia. AAP leaders are cutting deals with the mafia and selling water at exorbitant prices. The Aam Aadmi Party has faced a significant setback in the Supreme Court. The court has exposed the lies of the Delhi government, showing that AAP has left the people of Delhi parched for water.”

“We filed a complaint with the Police Commissioner against this water theft involving tanker mafias and corrupt officials. We demand the formation of a Special Investigation Team to investigate these issues. The people of Delhi deserve answers and solutions, not excuses and inaction,” declared Delhi BJP Chief Virendra Sachdeva who mentioned that they have released evidence of how water is stolen from the Munak Canal through tankers.

Yogender Chandoliya and Bansuri Swaraj, two new BJP MPs from Delhi, criticized Sanjay Singh for his aforementioned comments and slammed him for engaging in “dirty politics over the crisis.” They released a statement which pointed out, “We thought that after reprimanding of Supreme Court, statements of Himachal Pradesh and Haryana governments. AAP leaders will stop water leakage and theft. Instead, we find MP Sanjay Singh doing politics which forces us to ask Singh and his colleagues Swati Maliwal and ND Gupta, what are you three doing to help fight the water crisis.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by BJP Haryana spokesperson Jawahar Yadav, who maintained that the AAP government has not been able to identify a time when Haryana delivered less water to Delhi. “Haryana does not make its own water, it comes from hills. We are giving more than 1,000 cusecs of water to Delhi. Instead of making allegations, the Delhi government should pay the pending amount of ₹204 crore spent by Haryana on maintaining the Narwana canal.”

Meanwhile, P.W.D minister Atishi Marlena claimed that since 6th June, there has been a scarcity because of a decrease in production to which Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva responded that it was “regrettable that the water minister was trying to mislead the people instead of working to fix leakages and stopping water theft.” He further charged, “If the Kejriwal government worked to check leakages and water theft which account for 54% water loss, then even at 939 MGD, Delhi could have got proper supply. While on normal days, the water theft and leakage loss is 54%. Today, it is 75% as the water theft by tanker mafia has almost doubled.”

The Haryana administration on 12th June asserted that Delhi is receiving more than its due share of water from the Yamuna River. Abhe Singh Yadav, the Minister of State for Water Resources and Irrigation for Haryana told reporters that the state is doing a meticulous job of fulfilling its obligation to provide Delhi with water in accordance with its share. He observed, “From the beginning, we are mindful that there should not be any chaos in the national capital because of the scarcity of drinking water.”

The minister continued, “We have always endeavoured to provide Delhi’s complete share of water. But, how it (the Delhi government) uses that water and how it manages it is entirely its responsibility. If you have read the Supreme Court order, it said that once Himachal Pradesh supplies the water, the Yamuna Water Board will verify the inflow, and then, Haryana will ensure a smooth flow to Delhi. No water came nor was it verified.” 

On 9th June Haryana Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini also hit out at the AAP government in Delhi and accused, “Lying is in their DNA. If you look at their DNA, they cannot live without lying. They work by relying on lies.” According to him, Haryana was supplying the national capital with water in excess of what was agreed upon and the AAP administration was accountable for the Delhi water problem. Additionally, the state was providing Delhi with 1,049 cusecs of water from the Yamuna. He conveyed that although the AAP government had brought up the matter previously, it had been discovered that Haryana was providing water in accordance with the agreement.

AAP fights with the LG

LG VK Saxena was asked by the Delhi Water Minister on 12th June to send an assistant commissioner of police officer to patrol the Munak Canal in Delhi in order to make sure that there is no unlawful water-filling going on. The AAP leader added that in order to lower the number of Delhi Jal Board tankers, senior officials conspired with the mafia, and called for an investigation into this. “An ACP level police officer should be deployed to patrol the stretch of Munak Canal in Delhi to ensure that no illegal water filling activity happens there.”

Atishi Marlena alleged, “There is a need for an enquiry into the potential collusion by senior officers in the Delhi government with the tanker mafia because it seems that there has been a deliberate and substantial reduction of the tankers deployed by the Delhi Jal Board in the last one year.” Meanwhile, the LG also reciprocated and charged, “A sting operation carried out by a prominent news channel more than established the water mafia operating in the city, forcing a reluctant Water Minister, Atishi, till now in denial, to issue perfunctory statements,” per sources in the Delhi LG office.

The LG reported that he had spoken with Nayab Singh Saini, the chief minister of Haryana, who had told him that water was being supplied to Delhi in compliance with its allotted share. The chief minister of Haryana, he added, promised all assistance possible despite the state’s own limitations brought on by the continuing heat wave.

However, she claimed that the BJP-led administration in the state was “deliberately” and “illegally” attempting to cut off the water supply to Delhi’s Munak Canal pointing to a copy of affidavits that Haryana had submitted with the Supreme Court, which was hearing the case. “While the LG says Haryana is releasing sufficient water to Delhi, the Haryana government in its affidavit in the SC said it is releasing 985 cusecs of water. So, LG’s first lie has been exposed. Second, he said, ‘Delhi is not maintaining the Munak Canal.’ Repair and maintenance of the canal is the responsibility of the Haryana irrigation department, not Delhi’s.”

“If less water is coming at Bawana, the entry point from where water comes to Delhi that means this water is being filled in tankers in Haryana. Do you expect ministers from the Delhi government to stop tankers in Haryana,” she questioned while talking about the LG office statement on “water theft and tanker mafia” being behind the shortage. “You are the LG of Delhi, not a spokesperson of the BJP. If you know there is a problem of water theft and wastage, you should take action, talk to the Haryana CM, complain to the Haryana Police,” she added.

The LG’s office countered her remarks by insisting that the minister was fabricating a story to divert attention from the Supreme Court’s ongoing consideration of the matter and was attempting to justify the Arvind Kejriwal government’s “criminal failure” to provide water to the populace. “The question of a shortfall, if any, is irrelevant since by her own admission, all Water Treatment Plants (WTPs) of Delhi, barring one, are producing more water than their capacity from water supplied by the Munak canal from Haryana,” officials remarked.

The sources at the LG office added, “Yesterday, AAP Water Minister in Delhi, Atishi Marlena issued a patently and blatantly false statement, blaming Haryana for scarcity of water in Delhi and charged the Delhi LG with lies. Convolutedly, she based her fanciful assertions on the affidavit filed by the Government of Haryana in the ongoing matter in this regard, in the Supreme Court.”

Scams and massive losses infest Delhi Jal Board

There have been reports of money laundering in the Delhi Jal Board’s tender awarding process. Tajendra Singh, a chartered accountant, Anil Kumar Aggarwal, and Jagdish Kumar Arora are among those mentioned in the Enforcement Directorate’s chargesheet. The agency detained Jagdish Arora and Anil Aggarwal on 31st January of last year. The Enforcement Directorate asserted that Jagdish Kumar Arora, the former chief engineer of the Delhi Jal Board granted the flow meter contract to NKG Infrastructure Limited at a “inflated cost” of Rs 38 crore.

During the investigation, the ED learned that M/S NKG Infrastructure Ltd presented false or misleading documentation in order to secure the deal. Additionally, it has come to light that Jagdish Kumar Arora was aware that the company did not meet the technical specifications specified in the bidding. Furthermore, the agency disclosed that the assignment subcontracted by M/S NKG Infrastructure Ltd. was received by Anil Kumar Aggarwal’s single proprietorship, M/S Integral Screws Ltd.

It was also uncovered that only approximately Rs 14 crore of the Rs 24 crore payment received by the Delhi Jal Board was used for the contracted job, with the remainder amount being either embezzled or used as bribes. The agency further emphasized that Jagdish Kumar Arora received a bribe of Rs. 3.19 crore, some of which he disbursed to other officers of the Delhi Jal Board and the AAP for use in the elections. The agency stated that former Delhi Jal Board head engineer Jagdish Kumar Arora “transferred” Rs 2 crore in bribe money to his departmental colleagues and the AAP to be used as political funding.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) submitted a First Investigation Report that highlighted scheduled violations related to bribery and corruption in the Delhi Jal Board under the AAP, which led to the registration of the new money-laundering case. The Enforcement Department declared that it has placed assets worth a total of Rs 8.8 crore under temporary attachment. These assets belonged to Jagdish Kumar Arora, his wife Alka Arora, Anil Kumar Aggarwal (proprietor of Integral Screw Industries, a subcontractor) and NKG Infrastructure Limited, (a Delhi Jal Board contractor). The team conducting the inquiry discovered that each of these properties was located in Delhi.

In the meantime, the Delhi administration led by the Aam Aadmi Party transformed the profit-making Delhi Jal Board (DJB) into a Rs. 800 crore loss-making entity in just three years after taking office, according to a 2018 Right to Information (RTI) request. Arvind Kejriwal had proposed a no-profit, no-loss model for the board before he was elected. He believed that the board’s goal should be to serve the interests of the public rather than to turn a profit. However, since he assumed leadership the Delhi Jal Board turned into a losing organization.

RTI activist Sanjeev Jain filed an RTI, and the board responded, stating that they had lost Rs. 533 crores in 2016–17, while the expected loss for 2017–18 is Rs. 275 crore. This brings the two-year loss to more than Rs. 800 crores. Remarkably, the board recorded no loss in 2013–14, 2014–15 and 2015–16. According to the RTI, the loss occurred as a result of the 7th Pay Commission’s implementation. While it may have been a smart political move, the Delhi Jal Board does not appear to have fared well financially from its free water policy.

In December 2017, the board had raised tariffs by 20% in an attempt to offset the losses and customers started receiving higher bills in February. The tariffs were not increased in the last three years, despite the board’s mandate to hike them by 10% annually, which might have compounded the loss. The free water that the Delhi government provided had also drawn concern from the Delhi High Court. It had advised the Delhi Government that they might charge one paisa or ten paise, but nothing should be given away for free. Notably, Arvind Kejriwal who did not held a single portfolio became the chairperson of the Delhi Jal Board in September 2017.

Conclusion

Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP which is renowned for finding solutions to issues and always finding flaws in its opponents, has proven to be incredibly incompetent at running their own government. However, they opted, like a force of habit, to place the blame on everyone and everything, from the Lieutenant Governor to the Bharatiya Janata Party, rather than correcting their policies. With the majority of its senior leaders, including the chief minister, either behind bars or free on bail, the party that purported to offer alternative politics to the country is turning out to be among the most dishonest and inept political entities.

The ongoing water crisis which is an annual affair is also brought on by AAP’s ineptness. However, the Delhi Jal Board exposed the AAP administration’s lies in the Summer Bulletin, pointing out that Delhi gets more water than it needs from sources in Uttarakhand and Haryana. In addition, the board officials stated that Wazirabad was already receiving around 85 million gallons per day (MGD) more water from the Yamuna stream than was allotted to the pond from the Hathnikund barrage.

Water is sent to Delhi from Haryana via the Yamuna River, the Delhi Sub Branch and the Carrier Lined Canal. According to the three summer reports that were released on 31st May, 1st and 2nd June, Delhi is consistently obtaining more water overall from Uttarakhand and Haryana than it is allotted. Delhi received 604 MGD on 31st May and 607 MGD on 1st and 2nd June although it has a total allocation of 547 MGD from Haryana.

Notably, the Delhi Jal Board bulletin divulged that although Delhi was not given any water from the Yamuna, it took 85 MGD on 31st May and 101 MGD on 1st and 2nd June from the river. Carrier Lined Canal’s receipt was less than what was allocated. However, the total amount of water gained from Haryana exceeded the overall allocation since the board drew without permission from the Yamuna and acquired more water from the Delhi Sub Branch.

Unsurprisingly, the AAP leaders will not be dissuaded by the facts from their own department and are going to keep playing politics instead of coming up with tangible solutions to allay public fears and tackle the water crisis in the national capital.

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