A BJP delegation that held the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) CEO Nikhil Kumar "captive" for more than 10 hours at the utility's headquarters here over alleged lack of water supply in the city ended the protest early Wednesday after the officer called the police.
Former Union minister Vijay Goel, who led the delegation, told PTI that the DJB CEO "called the police who escorted him out and the gherao ended around 3:30 am Wednesday".
Delhi Jal Board Vice Chairman Dinesh Mohaniya said they had been supplying water beyond their capacity and accused the BJP of politicising the issue. Around 5 pm on Tuesday, the BJP delegation, which besides Goel included MLA O P Sharma and BJP city unit vice president Jai Prakash, went to meet DJB CEO Kumar, who took charge on June 6.
The DJB headquarters, however, soon turned into a protest venue as the delegation started raising slogans against the Aam Aadmi Party government alleging the utility, headed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, had no plans to deal with the "water crisis" in the national capital.
Goel told PTI that the delegation had "held the CEO captive and that he would not be allowed to leave till he promises to form a task force to address issues related to contaminated water, upload all complaints on DJB website and release a summer action plan, among other things". Sharma, the BJP MLA, said the DJB staff had locked the doors on the ground floor to prevent other BJP supporters from moving up to the CEO's room.
Goel, a former Delhi BJP president, Sharma and other party leaders indulged in arguments with DJB officials over the water supply issue. "They have no clue as to how many complaints have been received. They don't have any knowledge about the areas where people have been getting contaminated water or no water at all. They have no plans to resolve the crisis. We have gheraoed the CEO office, we have held him captive and will not let him leave tonight," Goel said, before the protest ended.
Later, police were called in as the raucous protesters jostled with the DJB staff in a bid to force their way into the CEO's office on the third floor. Earlier, BJP's Delhi unit president Manoj Tiwari wrote a letter to Chief Minister Kejriwal on Tuesday drawing his attention to "power outages" and "acute water crisis" in the national capital.
Kejriwal tweeted that Delhi gets round-the-clock power supply at the cheapest rates in the country. DJB CEO Kumar said officials have been given strict instructions to redress grievances in the shortest possible time. "We have a toll-free number and sub-zonal offices where complaints are registered and time-bound action is taken. We will take strongest possible action.
We have a zero-tolerance policy for any laxity on the part of field-level officers," he said. "I and other senior officials will be monitoring the situation (so that) there's no problem of water contamination or water shortage in this summer season," Kumar said. The BJP leaders have been attacking the ruling AAP over power and water supply that the ruling party counts among two of its most significant achievements since coming to power in Delhi in 2015.
DJB Vice-Chairman Mohaniya said that in many areas, such as in Anand Parbat, geographical constraints don't allow laying water and sewer pipelines. "They always tell half truth. It's not that only Delhi has been facing issues. The entire country is reeling under a severe heatwave and facing water shortage. We have been supplying water beyond our capacity.
Our supply hasn't declined, but the demand has been increasing due to the oppressive heat," Mohaniya said. "All rivers, lakes and ponds across the country are running dry. But, instead of helping people in such a situation, the BJP is politicising the issue," he alleged.