Enough water for all in Delhi, yet many areas go thirsty

State Government’s draft water policy-2013 admits that inequitable distribution is a huge problem

May 10, 2014 09:32 am | Updated November 16, 2021 08:05 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Going by the amount of water flowing into the Capital’s supply network, there should be enough for all. But as the situation on the ground shows, that is far from the case.

As per the National Water Commission, the daily water requirement in sewered areas is 135 litres per capita per day (lpcd). But data from the Delhi Government’s statistical handbook for 2012-2013 says 222 lpcd is being supplied. By that standard, there should be sufficient water for everyone.

The State Government’s draft water policy in 2013 admits that inequitable distribution is a huge problem. For instance, the Delhi Cantonment gets 509 lpcd, the New Delhi Municipal Council area gets 440 lpcd, while residents of Outer Delhi get only 40 lpcd.

“In fact, Lutyens’ Delhi gets between 1,400 and 1,500 lpcd, while Mehrauli in South Delhi gets less than 30 lpcd,” said Sushmita Sengupta, the deputy programme manager of the Centre for Science and Environment’s Water Programme Unit.

Being at the tail-end of the network, South and South-West Delhi residents are left to fend for themselves as the authorities shift blame. One of the worst affected areas, Sangam Vihar relies on private borewells. When asked why the Delhi Jal Board had not laid pipelines in the area, spokesperson Sanjam Chima said: “It is on forest land, which is under the Forest Department.”

She added that the demand goes up 15 per cent in summer. “People have installed online boosters, which affects our water pressure as the system works on hydraulics,” said Ms. Chima.

DJB member Sandeep Tanwar said the situation in some areas like Dwarka, Najafgarh, Mahavir Enclave and unauthorised colonies elsewhere was so bad that people were forced to pay hefty sums to the tanker mafia in the absence of DJB supply. “The tanker mafia charges Rs.3,500 per tanker in the areas where the DJB tankers don’t reach. Why can’t the DJB provide these areas with tankers at its fixed rate of Rs.1,100?” he asked.

The Capital sure has lot of water to waste

For a city that goes through a water shortage every summer, Delhi sure has a lot of water to waste. Environmentalists put the amount of water lost through leakages in the distribution system anywhere between 25 per cent and 50 per cent.

“It has been admitted by the Delhi Jal Board itself in a presentation to the Ministry of Environment and Forests that 52 per cent of water goes waste,” said Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan convenor Manoj Misra.

A study by the Centre for Science and Environment in 2012, called Excreta Matters, had put Delhi’s water wastage at 52 per cent as well. “Though we are yet to revise the data, that number has not changed much today,” said CSE’s deputy programme director for the water programme unit Sushmita Sengupta.

The DJB, however, refutes that number. It says that repairing 330 major leaks last year and improving infrastructure has made the amount of water lost through leakages negligible.

“While it’s true that a lot of water is wasted, it has come down from last year. We used to be told by the officials themselves that 50 per cent of water was being wasted, but after new pipelines were laid leakages have reduced,” said DJB member Sandeep Tanwar.

However, Mr. Tanwar added that the amount of water lost through leaking tankers was still a big problem. “New tankers with all the modern facilities have been introduced, but you will see tankers spilling water all over the streets,” he said.

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