Explained: Why Delhi is Facing Floods in 2023?

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The State Governments are expected to view national problems with a greater objectivity, rationality and spirit of service to the nation and - ill-founded objections may result in greater harm, not only to the neighbouring States but also to the nation at large.

Chandigarh (ABC Live): The National Capital of India, New Delhi is facing one of severest floods of its recorded history now-a -days. 

The government authorities responsible for managing the water logging have become helpless and left citizens on the mercy of god with hope that water of Yamuna River and its tributaries will recede soon after rainfall in Yamuna catchment area will come down.

Floods is a one of permanent features of India national disaster management program for decades and government agencies have accepted this as unsolvable disaster except to face it.

The average rainfall in India is about 4,000 billion cubic meters, but most of India's rainfall comes over a 4-month period – June through September. 

Furthermore, the rain across the very large nation is not uniform, the east and north gets most of the rain, while the west and south get less.

India also sees years of excess monsoons and floods, followed by below average or late monsoons with droughts. This geographical and time variance in availability of natural water versus the year round demand for irrigation, drinking and industrial water creates a demand-supply gap, which has been worsening with India's rising population.

The ABC Research team working on India’s National water policy refers a judgment dated 27/02/2012 of the Supreme Court of India in CWP No. 668/2002, wherein the apex court dealt the issues of frequent floods in India and directed to work for idea of linking rivers of India as a permanent solution of this national disaster.

As the Supreme Court observed that, “51. The National Commission for Review of the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) 2002 in its Report also dealt with another important facet of river interlinking i.e. sharing of river waters. Explaining the doctrines of river sharing, it - described Doctrine of Riparian Rights, Doctrine of Prior Appropriation, Territorial Integrity Theory, Doctrine of Territorial Sovereignty, English Common Law Principle of Riparian Right, Doctrine of Community Interest, Doctrine of Equitable Apportionment. It also explained that when determining what a reasonable and equitable share is, the factors which should be taken into consideration. In that behalf, it specifically referred to agreements, judicial decisions, awards and customs that already are in place. Furthermore, relative economic and social needs of interested states, volume of stream and its uses, land not watered were other relevant considerations. Thus, it will be for the expert bodies alone to examine on such issues and their impact on the project. 

52. Be that as it may, we have no hesitation in observing that the national interest must take precedence over the interest of the individual States. The State Governments are expected to view national problems with a greater objectivity, rationality and spirit of service to the nation and - ill-founded objections may result in greater harm, not only to the neighbouring States but also to the nation at large.”

The Supreme Court in above said case directed as under;

“64. Realizing our limitations, we would finally dispose of this Public Interest Litigation with the following directions:- (I) We direct the Union of India and particularly the Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India, to forthwith constitute a Committee to be called a ‘Special Committee for Inter-linking of Rivers’ (hereinafter referred as ‘the Committee’) of which ……………………………………………………….

 (II) The Committee shall meet, at least, once in two months and shall maintain records of its discussion and the Minutes.

 (III) In the absence of any person from such meeting, irrespective of his/her status, the meeting shall not be adjourned. If the Hon’ble Minister for Water Resources - is not available, the Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India, shall preside over the Meeting. 

(IV) The Committee would be entitled to constitute such sub-committees, as it may deem necessary for the purposes of carrying on the objects of the Inter-Linking of River Program, on such terms and conditions as it may deem proper.

 (V) The Committee shall submit a bi-annual report to the Cabinet of the Government of India placing before it the status-cum-progress report as well as all the decisions required to be taken in relation to all matters communicated therewith. The Cabinet shall take all final and appropriate decisions, in the interest of the countries as expeditiously as possible and preferably within thirty days from the date the matters are first placed before it for consideration. 

(VI) All the reports of the expert bodies as well as the status reports filed before this Court during the pendency of this petition, shall be placed before the Committee for - its consideration. Upon due analysis of the Reports and expert opinions, the Committee shall prepare its plans for implementation of the project. 

(VII) The plans so prepared shall have different phases, directly relatable to the planning, implementation, construction, execution and completion of the project.

 (VIII) We are informed that large sums have been spent on preparation of initial and detailed project reports of the project ‘Ken-Betwa Project’. The DPR is now ready. The States of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and also the Central Government had already given their approval and consent. The clarifications sought will be discussed by the Committee. We would direct the Committee to take up this project for implementation at the first instance itself. 

(IX) Keeping in view the expert reports, we have no hesitation in observing and directing that time is a very material factor in the effective execution of the Interlinking of Rivers project. As pointed out in the Report by NCAER and by the Standing Committee, the - delay has adversely affected the financial benefits that could have accrued to the concerned parties and the people at large and is in fact now putting a financial strain on all concerned. 

(X) It is directed that the Committee shall take firm steps and fix a definite timeframe to lay down the guidelines for completion of feasibility reports or other reports and shall ensure the completion of projects so that the benefits accrue within reasonable time and cost. 

(XI) At the initial stages, this program may not involve those States which have sufficient water and are not substantially involved in any inter-linking of river programme and the projects can be completed without their effective participation. 

XII) However, the Committee may involve any State for effective completion of the programme at any subsequent stage. 

(XIII) There are projects where the paper work has been going for the last ten years and at substantial cost to the public exchequer. Therefore, we direct the Central - and the State Governments to participate in the program and render all financial, administrative and executive help to complete these projects more effectively.

 (XIV) It is evident from the record that the Reports submitted by the Task Force have not been acted upon. Thus, the entire effort put in by the Task Force has practically been of no use to the concerned governments, much less the public. The Task Force has now been wound up. Let the reports of the Task Force also be placed before the Committee which shall, without fail, take due note of the suggestions made therein and take decisions as to how the same are to be implemented for the benefit of the public at large. 

(XV) The Committee constituted under this order shall be responsible for carrying out the inter-linking program. Its decisions shall take precedence over all administrative bodies created under the orders of this Court or otherwise. 

 (XVI) We grant liberty to the learned Amicus Curiae to file contempt petition in this Court, in the event of default or non-compliance of the directions contained in this order.”

On 16 September 2015, first linking was completed of rivers Krishna and Godavari. It is still under review. But it isn't considered as a true river interlinking as it is just small lift irrigation with few lines of pipes.

Current status of interlinking Himalayan Rivers responsible for present floods in northern India in 2023 despite the time bound directions of Supreme Court of India is as under;

Ghaghara–Yamuna link (Feasibility study complete)

Sarda–Yamuna link (Feasibility study complete),

Yamuna–Rajasthan link

Rajasthan–Sabarmati link

Kosi–Ghaghara link

Kosi–Mechi link

Manas–Sankosh–Tista–Ganga link

Jogighopa–Tista–Farakka link

Ganga–Damodar–Subernarekha link

Subernarekha–Mahanadi link

Farakka–Sunderbans link

Gandak–Ganga link

Chunar–Sone Barrage link

Sone dam–Southern tributaries of Ganga link

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