DJB focussing on rejuvenation of 93 water bodies

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Jal Board is focusing on rejuvenation of 93 water bodies because of the critical decline in groundwater level in the national Capital.

Data available with the Delhi government says there are over 1,000 water bodies in the capital are dying due to encroachment and urbanisation. Nearly 80 per cent just exist on paper, say activists. Although some water bodies have dried up, in many places, parks have come up. Others have been converted into dumping sites. In rural areas, theywork as sewage dumps. However, government efforts remain mere on-paper exercise.

One of the biggest dangers to the city's water bodies is the dumping of untreated sewage and the absence of sincere efforts at water restoration.

According to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) official, the water utility has been focusing on water bodies which have sewage inflow from nearby villages. The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has also identified more than 15 of these subterranean edifices (Baoli) across the capital for restoration purposes.

With water crisis burgeoning in the city, the government has invited corporate social responsibility (CSR) partners to restore the ancient stepwells. Conservationists argue that the indigenous water structures, some of which are buried under the earth or masked by the modern construction, can take care of the local water needs in the long run.

"Mehrauli is water deficient. If the baolis are restored, they can to some extent solve the water shortage problem," said heritage activist Vikramjit Singh Rooprai, who has contributed pictures for the government's calendar for 2017 that celebrates the history of baolis in Delhi. Qutub Baoli inside the Sufi shrine of Bakhtiyar Kaki in South Delhi's Mehrauli area and the lesser-known Matia Mahal Baoli were not featured in the calendar, Rooprai said. In Lutyen's Delhi, Agrasen ki Baoli is known as a tourist place, it can be easily revived by rain water . In June 2016, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) also directed the Delhi government to clean and restore all the natural water bodies. These water bodies, if reclaimed, could have helped against declining groundwater reserves and recharge aquifer and sustain tube wells operation in nearby areas.

"If there is a will, most of these can be revived. Till 30-40 years back, when the control of these water bodies was with the community, most of these were functioning. Now the control has shifted from the community to the state. Despite judicial orders, we see no progress," activist Diwan Singh., who is part of the Dwarka Water Bodies Committee, said.

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