Delhi LG writes open letter to Kejriwal over Atishi’s claim on ‘death due to water supply shortage’

Delhi, Delhi news, DJB, delhi water shortage, delhi water supply shortage, AAP, Arvind Kejriwal
Image Source : PTI Delhi LG VK Saxena

Delhi news: Delhi LG VK Saxena on Tuesday (April 16) wrote an open letter to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is lodged in the Tihar Jail in connection with the liquor scam, and lashed out over Minister Atishi’s letter drawing “conclusion” over the killing of a woman in the Farsh Bazar area during a fight over water from a common tap, and attributing the incident to “inadequate supply of water” as the cause behind the crime. The LG accused her of choosing to use the death of the woman for “narrow and partisan political goals”.

The letter comes as Atishi on Sunday wrote to the LG regarding the “shocking incident” and alleged that “the shortage of water supply led to violence, culminating in the death of a woman”.

A 15-year-old girl was apprehended for allegedly stabbing a neighbour to death in Delhi’s Farsh Bazar area during a fight over water from a common tap, an official said on Sunday (April 14). The victim was identified as Soni, 34, who received several cuts in her left hand and a stab wound in the stomach, they added. According to the police, the incident took place on Friday.

War of words

In an open letter to Kejriwal, LG Saxena said that the police are still investigating the circumstances of the “tragic death”, and the Minister has already drawn a conclusion and “resorted to typical blame game”.

“While the police are still investigating the circumstances of the tragic death, the Minister drew a conclusion on the basis of news reports and resorted to typical blame game, wherein, having underlined the inadequate supply of water as the cause behind this incident, she ironically indicted her own government of more than 09 years. Her note indeed is a prima facie admission of guilt, inaction and inefficiency over the past almost 10 years,” he wrote.

The LG called it the failure of the government and said that the incident was not the only one of a kind and many such incidents over water scarcity have taken place in the past “primarily due to the failure of the Government”.

“Such instances have become a recurrent phenomenon year after year and have been widely reported in Media over the last ten years. 1 am enclosing a snapshot of some news clippings, starting 2017 for illustration,” he wrote.

“Your Minister’s hasty missive to me is an admission of these failures and defaults of performance of your Government and amount to facile attempts at shrugging responsibility off, a complex problem,” the LG added.

Mentioning Atishi targeting the Chief Secretary, Chief Executive Officer of Delhi Jal Board and other officials, Saxena said that it has become “habitual” on the part of the ministers “to blame officers for their own failures”.

Delhi LG cites official figures

Saxena cited official figures to highlight his points. He cited The Economic Survey 2023-24, tabled in the recent Budget Session of the Delhi Assembly.

“Over the last decade, water treatment capacity grew marginally from 906 MGD to 946 MGD, barely a 4.4 per cent increase. During the same period, the population of the city has grown significantly by 15 per cent.

“The overall shortfall in water supply amounts to about 290 MGD. Of the total water being supplied, 120 MGD comes from groundwater extraction, which is also a gross exaggeration. I am sure that you are aware that of the 16 Ranney wells, five are non-functional. Similarly, a large number of tubewells are also dysfunctional,” he added.

The percentage of “unaccounted for water” — a sum of water leakages by way of transmission and distribution losses, water theft and non-payment of dues — saw a sharp increase from 45 per cent in 2015 to 58 per cent in 2022-2023, the L-G said.

“By implication, in 2015, of the 906 MGD of water treated, only 498 MGD was accounted for. In 2022-23, of the 946 MGD treated, barely 397 MGD is accounted for. Accordingly, over the last decade, net water availability has decreased by more than 100 MGD due to the criminal neglect by your Government,” Saxena added.

He said that of the about 2.5 crore people in the city, more than two crore are deprived of drinking water supply in varying degrees, especially in unauthorized colonies, slum clusters and to a lesser extent, even in organized developed colonies.

“It simply points to the fact that there has been no effort whatsoever during the last ten years for plugging the leaks and we seem to be spending thousands of crores in pumping water into a leaking bucket,” the L-G said.

Atishi responds

Atishi reacted sharply to the letter and alleged that the LG is responsible for stopping the work of Jal Board.

“LG has encouraged the officers who stopped the work. No action is being taken against the officers despite being said again and again,” she alleged.

What had Atishi said earlier?

In her letter to the LG, Atishi had urged him to suspend the CEO of DJB on charge of “criminal negligence”.

“For more than a year, Chief Minister had given clear directions and a road map for improving water supply in Delhi,” the letter said.

“For the last six months, the undersigned gave repeated directions (enclosed) to the CEO of Delhi Jal Board and the Chief Secretary to ensure augmentation of water supply, so that there is no shortage of water when the onset of summer happens,” it added.

“In light of this shocking incident of the death of a woman in Farsh Bazar following violence due to water shortage, Hon”ble LG is requested to immediately suspend the CEO of Delhi Jal Board within 24 hours as this criminal negligence has taken place under his watch,” Atishi said.

(With inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Delhi: Girl stabs neighbour to death over using water from common tap, apprehended

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