The Delhi High Court issued directions to address the perennial issue of waterlogging and flooding in the national capital.

The Court pointed out how Delhi had been facing “the fury of river Yamuna in spate year after year with last year (2023) being particularly bad. Waterlogging, flooding and related collapse of civic services have become perennial issues.

A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora observed, “Clearly, the efforts have not yielded much result despite decades of judicial pronouncements and half-baked attempts by city administration to address endemic issues. There is an absolute lack of coordination between different agencies/departments. A mechanism to address the same with a unified command at an appropriate level of seniority, that can ensure interdepartmental / agency and inter-government coordination seamlessly, is the need of the hour.

CGSC Ripu Daman Bhardwaj and ASC Anuj Aggarwal appeared for the respondents.

The key directives issued by the Court included:

Integrated Drainage Management Plans (DMPs): The Court directed the Government of NCT of Delhi (GNCTD) to finalize DMPs for all basins by September 15, 2024, and initiate administrative decisions for implementation by November 30, 2024. “The urgency for implementation of DMP cannot be emphasized enough; however, the apathy of the administration is evident in the aforenoted facts and hence it has become imperative that time bound directions are issued to GNCTD,” the Court stated.

Multiplicity of Authorities for Management of Drainage System: Recognising the challenges posed by multiple agencies managing stormwater drains, the Court mandated GNCTD to assign responsibility for all open drains outfalling into the Yamuna River to a single department or agency by April 30, 2024. The Court pointed out that “there is no dispute that multiplicity of authorities has resulted in mismanagement of drains. All such drains finally outfall in the river Yamuna, in the process, not only polluting it, but ultimately making the people of Delhi suffer.

Rejuvenation of Water Bodies: After the Court stated that “it is important to ensure that the rejuvenated water bodies are maintained properly and remain encroachment free,” the GNCTD was directed to complete the geo-tagging of remaining water bodies by May 15, 2024, and prepare estimates for their rejuvenation by May 30, 2024, with subsequent completion by December 31, 2024.

Rainwater Harvesting (RWH): The government was directed to ensure RWH systems are installed in remaining government buildings by September 30, 2024, and explore RWH systems in low-lying areas during the upcoming monsoon.

Restoration and rejuvenation of Yamuna River Flood Plains: Delhi Development Authority (DDA) was tasked with removing encroachments and developing biodiversity parks/wetland areas on the floodplains, with action plans to be submitted promptly.

The Court explained that “it is necessary to do green development of the banks of the Yamuna as wetlands and public spaces, parks for open green spaces, access to civic amenities, zones of entertainment or playgrounds for the children. This will lead to buy-in by the common citizen, a sense of ownership and consequent pressures on the authorities to ensure maintenance. All this will go hand in hand with ecological restoration, maintenance, and protection of the flood plains.

Accordingly, the High Court listed the matter for further hearing on 20th May 2024.

Cause Title: Court On Its Own Motion v. Union Of India & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2024:DHC:2874-DB)


CGSC Ripu Daman Bhardwaj and Kirtiman Singh; ASC Anuj Aggarwal and Tushar Sannoo; Advocates Kushagra Kumar, K.Manaswini, Arshya Singh, Siddhant Dutt, Yash Upadhyay, Puja Kalra, Rashmi Chopra, Waize Ali Noor, Shreya V.Mehra and Kartik Baijal

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