Delhi doomed to reel under water crisis

May 9th, 2008 - 11:07 am ICT by admin  

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, May 9 (IANS) The water crisis in the Indian capital is set to take a turn for the worse in the long term, leading perhaps to more water-related conflicts. In 2021, the city will face a deficit of over 1,000 million litres per day (MLD) - higher than the current figure of around 900 MLD. “Providing adequate water supply to meet the city’s varied needs is an onerous task. It is going to be the biggest challenge before the city in the years to come, and what makes the job indeed tougher is the limited resources for water,” a top Delhi Jal Board (DJB) official told IANS requesting anonymity.

The DJB is an autonomous agency to cater to the city’s water needs for domestic and other purposes, and is headed by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

According to the city’s Economic Survey for 2007-08, Delhi will have a deficit of 1,608 MLD. In 2021, total water demand is estimated to be 6,272 MLD as against a supply of 5,259 MLD - which means a deficit of 1,013 MLD.

A city of over 16 million people, Delhi is fully dependent on neighbouring Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for water, except for ground water mining in its own territory.

Its water crisis is set to become acute despite efforts to increase supply.

The survey says that the capacity building target for water has been pegged at around 4,432 MLD for the 11th plan period (2007-12).

“The city’s current requirement is around 4,275 MLD, while we are able to supply only around 3,375 MLD. Since the city adds 300,000 to 400,000 people every year from different parts of the country, the burden on scarce resources will increase manifold,” the official said.

As per the norm set by the Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation (CPHEEO) of the ministry of urban development, the city’s per capita daily water requirement is around 274 litres.

The official break-up of daily water consumption is 172 litres for domestic, 47 litres for industrial and commercial purposes, three litres for fire protection and 52 litres for the floating population and special uses like hotels and embassies.

“We need to increase the water level in the city through rain water harvesting programmes,” a DJB official said requesting anonymity.

The government’s key water capacity building projects include recycling units at existing water treatment plants at Haiderpur, Wazirabad and others, which will add 180 MLD to the capacity, and the Munak and Haiderpur canals that will add another 360 MLD.

Efforts are also on to get water from Uttar Pradesh for the Sonia Vihar water treatment plant, which is currently producing around 495 MLD of drinking water as against a capacity of 630 MLD.

“The problem of water in Delhi is a serious social and economic issue, and needs to be handled effectively. The demand for water continues to rise, in view of the ever increasing population,” said J.P. Aggarwal, city Congress chief and member of the Rajya Sabha.

The Planning Commission has urged the government to reduce unaccounted for water in the drinking water pipeline network to 15 percent from 45-50 percent, and drastically reverse the trend of groundwater mining.

“The total distribution losses are of the order of 40 percent of the water supplied. It is quite high as compared to 10 to 20 percent in (other) developing countries,” says the survey report.

The distribution losses are due to leakages in a network of 9,000 km-long main water supply chains and theft through unauthorised connections.

“A leak detection and investigation (LDI) cell has been put in place, and around 1,200-km long old and damaged supply chains have been replaced in the last five years. The distribution loss is expected to come down to 20 percent in the near future,” the DJB official said.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is not convinced.

“The Sheila Dikshit-led Congress government could not improve the water situation in the last 10 years,” said city BJP unit chief Harshvardhan.

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