Delhi’s water crisis is set to explode

July 29th, 2008 - 2:34 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arvind Padmanabhan and Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) Water is becoming a scarce commodity in the Indian capital that is home to some 16 million people and the crisis is going to worsen in the coming years, leading to more conflicts and pollution, warns a new study. “The nation’s capital is perpetually in the grip of a water crisis, more so in the dry season, when the situation gets particularly worse,” says the study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham).

“The water crisis in the Indian capital is set to take a turn for the worse in the long run, leading perhaps to more water-related conflicts,” adds the study, a copy of which was made available to IANS.

The study also points out that despite the current shortage of water, the city also sees huge wastage of water, estimated at over 40 percent, against 10-20 percent in cities of other developing countries.

“The distribution losses are due to leakages in a network of nearly 9,000-km-long main water supply chains and theft through unauthorised connections,” says the chamber’s secretary-general D.S. Rawat.

“The conservative pricing of resource and associated services - along with non-metering of 23 percent of the connections - also discourages a wise use of the available resource,” Rawat points out.

The study estimated the revenue loss to Delhi Jal Board - which sees 56 percent of its water supplied not being properly billed for - at Rs.19.91 billion (nearly $500 million).

The study says water pollution was another area of concern even though the water in Yamuna reaches the national capital relatively clean after its 395-km descent from the Himalayas.

“As it leaves the city, the river becomes the principal drain for Delhi’s waste as residents pour about 950 million gallons of sewage into it each day. Coursing through the capital, the river becomes a noxious black thread.”

Let alone drinking, fecal coliform in the Yamuna (a measure of filth) is 20 percent, or 100,000 times the safe limit for even bathing, with raw sewage floating on top and methane gas gurgling on the surface, the study points out.

Following are some of the key findings of the study, concerning New Delhi:

* The capital’s current water requirement is 4,275 million litres a day;

* Supplies add up to 3,375 million litres a day;

* The deficit is estimated at 1,103 million litres a day by 2021;

* Forty percent of the capital’s water is lost in distribution;

* The distribution network comprises 8,960-km of pubic pipes;

* Twenty-three percent of water sold is not metered;

* Fifty-six percent of Delhi Jal Board water does not fetch revenue;

* Revenue loss to Delhi Jal Board due to non-billing is Rs.19.91 billion;

* A fourth of Delhi’s households rely on groundwater;

* Around 78 percent of groundwater wells are overexploited;

* Groundwater levels in the capital are dropping by 10 metres each year;

* Some 230 million gallons of water extracted from Yamuna every day;

* Some 950 million gallons of waste poured into Yamuna daily;

* Filth level in Yamuna 100,000 times above safe limit for bathing;

* Bulk of 611 mm of rainwater received in 27 days;

* Per capita consumption of water estimated at 274 litres;

* Domestic sector accounts for 172 litres per capita;

* Commercial sector accounts for 47 litres per capita;

* Floating population and hotels account for 52 litres per capita; and

* Fire protection accounts for 3 litres per capita.

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