While water crisis in Shimla continues to make national headlines, the acute scarcity of water in national capital Delhi has left its citizens parched.
While water crisis in Shimla continues to make national headlines, the acute scarcity of water in national capital Delhi has left its citizens parched. Like the previous years when Delhiites witnessed abysmal situation in terms of availability of water, this year appears to be no different. Taps are running dry and people of Delhi are suffering due to a prolonged legal dispute between Delhi and Haryana, a drying river and the vagaries of nature, The Indian Express reported. While Supreme Court and Delhi High Court voiced concerns, political slugfest and blamegame have escalated to different levels.
Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has prepared a summer action plan in April to tackle the issue. As part of its summer action plan, DJB has decided to increase its water treatment capacity to 916 million gallons daily (MGD). So far, the board has managed to provide 860 MGD to its almost 2 crore residents on an average this summer — against the demand of 1,200 MGD. One reason behind this is shortfall is that despite increasing the capacity, there isn’t enough raw water to supply the same.
To make matters worse, an electric panel at Delhi’s largest water treatment plant in Haiderpur, with a capacity of 226 MGD, caught fire on Thursday. The plant, which treats water meant for southwest and New Delhi areas, had to shut down, crippling water supply. “In non-summer months, no one would even come to know that something like this happened. But this is like an emergency, where each hour of delay is crucial,” DJB vice-chairperson Dinesh Mohaniya said.
To mitigate the demand, Delhi government went to court against the Haryana government, with which it has a water-sharing pact. The AAP government claimed Haryana has denied Delhi its share of water leading up to the summer. But in a recent meeting with the Upper Yamuna River Board, the government was urged to withdraw all cases against the Haryana government, after an assurance by the state that it will release 1,080 cusecs of water to the capital.
“Haryana has assured the Board and us that it will release this water if the cases are withdrawn. The problem is that it leaves us with very little wiggle room. If Haryana does not release the water, we will have to initiate another court case. The situation has been quite tense over the past few months,” DJB vice-chairperson Dinesh Mohaniya admitted.
In May, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention in ensuring sufficient water supply from Haryana. In his letter to the PM, Kejriwal said the city has been receiving 1,133 cusecs of water from Haryana since 1996, but recently, for the first time in 22 years, the neighbouring state has contested Delhi’s right over this water and partially stopped the supply to the national capital.
The chief minister also wrote to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and requested him to talk to the Prime Minister and seek his intervention in the matter if there is no response from Haryana. Kejriwal had also written to his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar over the issue.
Congress has launched a month-long Jal Satyagraha agitation in all assembly constituencies of Delhi from June 1 and would conclude on June 30.
Experts have come up with solutions to tackle the issue. Storing excess water during monsoon could be an ideal way to beat the summer water scarcity.
It has been learnt that Yamuna fulfils up to 70 per cent of Delhi’s water needs. At the Hathnikund Barrage where Yamuna enters Haryana, the flow is supposed to be 4,016 cusecs. Haryana has to release around 1,300 cusecs to Delhi. However, the flow increases as the Monsoon brings rain. Often the flow goes beyond 7 lakh cusecs, as per Delhi government data.
DJB is planning to collect part of the water that flows into the river and store it in underground tanks. “This will serve dual purpose: recharge groundwater, and improve the water table, as well as help the city tide over summer months,” Mohaniya said. DJB has also planned to use the wastewater that varies between 450-500 MGD.