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Delhi’s water crisis

Delhi’s water crisis highlights the need for inter-state cooperation, sustainable management, and the Supreme Court’s intervention to ensure equitable access.

Delhi, the capital of India, is placed at the confluence of both historical resource limitation and contemporary urban challenges. The raging water crisis in the city, exacerbated by a 50-degree Celsius heatwave, has spotlighted urgent cooperative governance and sustainable management of resources. The Supreme Court has recently intervened into Delhi’s request for water from Haryana. This exemplifies the seriousness of the issue and the urgent need for coordinated action.

The Legal and Humanitarian Imperative

The petition filed by Atishi, Delhi Water Minister, highlights a moot point: as per Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, access to water is a fundamental human right, not just a practical concern. Implicit in this article, along with the right to life, is the right to lead a dignified and high-quality life. Millions of people reside in Delhi, and the lack of water has a direct bearing on the quality of life as it is essential for survival, health, and general well-being.

The plea has pointed out how this right is being infringed by the recurrent water shortage and how things are only getting bad to worse at the peak summer period. Under such horrible circumstances, what is required is a prompt and effective response by all the parties involved—the Centre, the BJP-ruled state of Haryana, and the Congress-ruled state of Himachal Pradesh.

The Role of the Upper Yamuna River Board

In response to the issue, the Supreme Court has ordered the Upper Yamuna River Board to call up an emergency conference with all participating states on June 5. This order is made with the objective of enabling a concerted effort to address the water scarcity. The minutes of this important meeting must be submitted by the Board so as to ensure accountability and openness in the decision-making process.

The Upper Yamuna River Board plays a critical role in controlling and maintaining the Yamuna River’s water supplies, which are important to many states, including Delhi. Water resources have to be distributed fairly and managed effectively in balancing the needs of the neighboring states with Delhi’s urgent needs.

The Inter-State Dynamics

The outreach of Atishi to the chief ministers of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh underscores the importance of collaboration in managing water resources. Delhi’s water problem cannot be viewed in a vacuum because it is interlinked with the availability and regulation of water in the vicinity. There cannot be a resolution to Delhi’s water shortage concerns without the cooperation of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in managing the Yamuna River upstream.

The political environment adds another layer of complexity to the situation. Interstate water disputes often get mired in political language since the states involved have different political parties at their helms. However, the present situation has become urgent and is in need of a more pragmatic and humanitarian solution rather than further political posturing.

Sustainable Solutions and Long-Term Strategies

While immediate relief measures are essential, addressing Delhi’s water crisis requires a long-term and sustainable strategy. This includes:

  • Improving Water Infrastructure: Upgrading and maintaining water supply infrastructure to reduce losses due to leaks and inefficiencies.
  • Rainwater Harvesting: Promoting and implementing rainwater harvesting techniques to augment groundwater resources.
  • Wastewater Treatment and Reuse: Expanding the capacity for wastewater treatment and encouraging the reuse of treated water for non-potable purposes.
  • Public Awareness and Participation: Educating the public about water conservation practices and encouraging active participation in water-saving initiatives.
  • Inter-State Water Agreements: Formulating and adhering to equitable water-sharing agreements that ensure fair distribution among states while safeguarding the needs of all.


The present water crisis in Delhi serves as a grim reminder of the critical importance of water as a common resource requiring cooperative management and as a fundamental human right. The measures proposed by the Upper Yamuna River Board and the Supreme Court form welcome initial steps toward addressing the current crisis. However, long-term solutions will need persistent work, political determination, and a steadfast commitment to fair and sustainable water management techniques. There is no other way to assure the citizens of Delhi of a decent and quality existence against the increasing concerns of the environment.

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