Delhi's water crisis
The Capital has been struggling to overcome its water crisis for decades resulting from policy failures
With the mercury rising, the Capital has already begun encountering a massive water crisis. A 60-year-old in Northwest Delhi died in a brawl over access to a local water tanker. The outskirts of Delhi along with slums and unauthorised colonies are the worst affected areas, as per Delhi Jal Board.
The water treatments plants in Delhi are partially working and the city will need more water in the Yamuna from the Haryana Government. But, after a number of written communications, the situation is yet to be sorted. This is not the first time that the city is undergoing such a water crisis. Every year, the same problems unfold and Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has not yet found any proper method to combat this issue. The DJB approaches the Haryana Government only when the crisis occurs and there has been no discussion for a permanent solution to this water sharing method between the two states.
The DJB has informed that the rise of ammonia in Yamuna water has become the primary problem this year and the summer has been the catalyst. It is said that two water treatment plants might be shut, and this may affect water supply in parts of west, north, central, and south Delhi.
Reports observed that due to depletion of the water level in the Wazirabad pond, which is currently at 671.3 ft against the normal level of 674.5 ft, and a reduction in the release of raw water by Haryana in the Delhi Sub Branch and Munak Canal, the production from water treatment plants of Delhi has been adversely affected. The affected areas are west, north, central Delhi, part of south Delhi, including the Delhi Cantonment and NDMC areas. Mostly, the shortage of water haunts the whole of the national Capital but it is the southern part which faces the worst turmoil. Last year, areas like Defence Colony and Lajpat Nagar were left with no choice but to live without water for over two consecutive days at a time when summer was at its peak. However, this year the shortage of water has arrived even before the scorching summers of Delhi.
The National Green Tribunal had last month directed Delhi and Haryana governments to hold a meeting to resolve the issue of high ammonia content in the water provided to the city. Last week, the DJB had told the National Green Tribunal that Haryana should be directed to release more water in the Yamuna and it should also be asked to treat the water being supplied to the National Capital. A report by the Central Government agencies showed that the level of ammonia in the Yamuna exceeded the safe limit in 13 of the 17 places between Haryana and Delhi and that most of the ammonia was coming from the drains in Delhi. At Delhi Gate, Najafgarh, and Sonia Vihar, the ammonia level was at least 35-45 times higher than what the DJB is equipped to treat. Nearly 60 per cent of the 900 MGD of water distributed in Delhi comes through the Yamuna River from Haryana. DJB recently told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that industrial units in Haryana were releasing the excess ammonia but CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) has contested that the ammonia is arising from Delhi's open drains itself. The Haryana government said that they were not to be blamed for Delhi's predicament and the DJB should raise the capacity of its WTPs instead of blaming the neighbouring state.
However, the Delhi government has no other option to fight this condition. Despite many initiatives by various activists and urban planners, the ruling parties of the Capital have always neglected the important water resources such as stepwells and small ponds. While stepwells can be built at any residential area, ponds can be made on the outskirts of the city. Conserving water in these natural resources as well as creating water harvesting pits in every residential area and institution can help address the Capital's water woes to a large extent.
The predicament of this water crisis in the Capital has been looming for decades. This has been the result of unambiguous policy failure from different parts of the government. There has not been any constructive communication between Delhi, Haryana, and the Central governments on this issue. The political blame game between the governments has created a logjam in their approach towards conserving water. When the need strikes, leaders express their concern and, with time, as situations are normalised the governments ignore the issue again. This has resulted in acute water crisis for the citizens – now, a regular phenomenon.
(The author is a Correspondent with Millennium Post. The views expressed are strictly personal)