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Issue 5
, 2007
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With trees gone and land under concrete, Delhi's water crisis set to worsen

Source: Toxics Link, Date: , 2007

At a time when the National Capital is witnessing one the greatest assaults on its green cover in its history, a new study has revealed that the Delhiites draw half of their water quota from the groundwater. More concrete areas and fewer trees in and around colonies would mean poor recharge of the groundwater and worsening of water crisis.

The study by the NGO Ridge Bachao Andolan, in consultation with IIT and National Physics Laboratory researchers, has backtracked the amount of sewage discharged to calculate the city’s daily water consumption and said that regularisation of colonies will worsen the situation significantly.

Working on the basis that sewage accounts for 80 per cent of water consumption, the study figures Delhi consumes 1,498 million gallons per day (MGD), since the daily sewage discharged is 1,198 million gallons.

With Delhi Jal Board releasing around 800 MGD, the study concludes that the rest is sourced from ground, according a newspaper report carried in Indian Express.

Further, according to a projection that regularised colonies will consume more water than unauthorised residential areas, the study predicts the demand to rise by at least 280 MGD.

“This is a recipe for disaster,” Diwan Singh, who was part of the study team, says. “Masterplan-2021 was made hurriedly, without an estimate of available infrastructure.

“The reason we did not have a severe water crisis last year is due to over-withdrawal of ground water. But that cannot last very long.”

The study says the Masterplan, which has envisaged agricultural areas of outer Delhi as concrete urban extensions, will lead to further depletion of water supply. Stressing the need for increasing green cover since trees act as catchments for groundwater, Singh says, “New York invests US $1 billion in developing forests to augment its water supply.”

With Delhi dependant on neighbouring states for much of its water, Singh says the only solution is curbing wastage and planting more trees.

The Delhi Jal Board is meanwhile relying on Renuka, Kishau and Lakhwar Vyasi dams to supply water to Delhi by 2021.