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Delhi minister on hunger strike over water crisis hospitalized 

The Indian capital has demanded that the neighboring state of Haryana distribute more water amid a heat wave

Delhi Water Minister Atishi Marlena was hospitalized on Tuesday due to deteriorating health amid a hunger strike over the water crises in the Indian capital. 

The politician, a member of the opposition Aam Admi Party (AAP) which rules the Delhi region, went on a hunger strike in protest against the government of neighboring Haryana. 

According to the AAP, Haryana has been reducing the water supply from the Yamuna River to the capital, which is suffering from one of its worst water shortages ever. 

A prolonged heat wave in India’s northern regions, with temperatures hovering around 50C, has caused a severe water crisis in New Delhi. Many areas in the capital have to rely on water tankers to meet their daily requirements, the Hindustan Times reported. 

The Haryana government has dismissed the Delhi government’s claims and accused it of mismanaging water resources.

AAP member of parliament Sanjay Singh said on Tuesday that doctors insisted on hospitalizing Atishi, warning that her life could be in peril. Her hunger strike lasted for five days.

Haryana is ruled by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while the AAP party is part of the opposition INDIA bloc. 

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Residents collect free water from a municipal tanker amidst the ongoing water crisis in Bengaluru on March 15, 2024.
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Atishi’s strike comes amid the ongoing legal battle of Arvind Kejriwal, the founder of the AAP and chief minister of Delhi, who was arrested by a federal economic intelligence agency on corruption charges. On Tuesday, Delhi’s High Court stayed the bail granted earlier to Kejriwal by a trial court. A representative of the AAP has vowed to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court. 

Experts believe the water shortage in Delhi has been caused by “distribution issues.” 

Despite significant population growth over the years, New Delhi’s water allocation from rivers has remained unchanged since 1994, Depinder Kapur, the water program director at the Center for Science and Environment, told Reuters. Vimlendu Jha, an environmentalist interviewed by the outlet, stressed the need for a “comprehensive water management plan” in which Yamuna is not the only major source of water for the city.

Similar to New Delhi, Bengaluru, the capital of the southern Indian state of Karnataka and a major tech hub, is also facing a severe water crisis. The city was hit by an unusually hot February and March and a lack of rain.

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June 25, 2024 at 10:08PM

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