NEW DELHI: Delhi Lt Governor V K Saxena wrote an open letter to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, currently lodged in Tihar jail, claiming that the state education minister and AAP leader Atishi used the death of a woman, who died in a fight over fetching water, for narrow and partisan political goals.
“I was deeply distressed at the insensitive communication from the Minister for Water…Atishi on Sunday. While I was yet to receive the letter, it characteristically found its way on various social and mainstream media platforms, the moment it was signed. She has chosen to use the unfortunate death of a woman in East Delhi for narrow and partisan political goals,” he said in a letter.
This letter came in as a response of the letter Delhi water minister had written few days ago to the LG asking him to suspend the CEO of Delhi Jal Board after a woman was killed after a fight with her neighbour over fetching water from a common tap in the Farsh Bazar area of northeast Delhi.
In the note, Atishi urged Saxena to “institute an independent enquiry into the acts of omission and commission of the chief secretary, as well as officers of the finance department, urban development department and DJB”.
Having underlined the inadequate supply of water as the cause behind the incident, the LG said that Atishi has ironically indicted her own government for this.
“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 said in the letter.
Asserting that this “unfortunate incident (woman’s death) is not the only such case of its kind in the context of Delhi”, he said many such incidents over water scarcity have happened 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 10 years. I am enclosing a snapshot of some news clippings, starting 2017 for illustration. Water woes in the capital, especially in settlements where the poor live, have exacerbated over the last decade.
“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,” he added.
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.
He highlighted a significant rise in the percentage of “unaccounted for water” – encompassing losses from leakages, theft, and unpaid dues – from 45% in 2015 to 58% in 2022-2023.
The LG also said that in 2015, out of 906 MGD (Million Gallons per Day) of treated water, only 498 MGD was documented. However, in 2022-23, out of 946 MGD treated, merely 397 MGD is accounted for. This indicates a decrease in net water availability by over 100 MGD over the past decade due to severe neglect.
He emphasized that among the approximately 2.5 crore residents in the city, over two crore suffer from inadequate drinking water supply, particularly in unauthorized colonies and slum clusters, and to a lesser extent, in developed areas.
He also accused the AAP government of deceiving the people by “creating a chimera of free water”. “Instead of fixing the iniquitous water supply, you and your ministers created a chimera of free water. Deception of people has been mastered into an art form by you and your minister,” he said
In response, Atishi accused the L-G of obstructing the Delhi Jal Board’s efforts and failing to take action against those hindering the work.
The Delhi water minister alleged that the L-G encouraged officers who impeded progress and ignored repeated requests for intervention.

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