Multiplicity of authorities is one of the main reasons that killed Delhi’s water bodies. There are 10 different authorities in Delhi ranging from DDA to BDO to MCD and forest department, looking after these water bodies. There are 1,012 water bodies in Delhi but, only 905 could be traced. Of the total water bodies traced, 338 are dry, 168 encroached and 107 non-traceable. According to Delhi Parks & Gardens Society under the state government, preservation of water bodies is not the mandate of a single agency. “The water bodies come under jurisdiction of different agencies which are not charged with their preservation or maintenance. Thus, institutional arrangements in this regard are very weak,” said a DJB official.
The largest number of 629 water bodies are under the control of BDO followed by 315 under DDA and 25 under MCD. Other departments like Forest and Archeological Survey of India (ASI) look after 18 and 15 water bodies respectively. DJB has four water bodies in its control, while two each are handled by DMRC and PWD, and one each by Wakf Board and DUSIB. Handled by various agencies, none can be solely held accountable for the vanishing water bodies. The worst part is that there is no concrete plan by the government to revive these water bodies. S D Singh, Nodal Officer (Water Bodies), said some agencies have started small programmes like planting trees around water bodies and constructing boundary walls but, everything is very small scale and done at a slow pace.
with Siddhanta Mishra
WATER MAFIA RULES the national capital
Despite AAP government’s claim that water mafia has been eliminated, the well-oiled network continue to operate in connivance with corrupt DJB officials. A source said 264 unauthorised colonies and slum clusters in the city do not have access to piped water supply and they are totally dependent on tanker mafias or illegal tube wells. The source added that water mafias are active in South, South-West and South-East parts of Delhi and their business is pegged at Rs 400 crore annually. People in these localities pay anywhere between Rs 800 and Rs 1,500 for 1,000 litres of water during summers. During winters, they pay somewhere between Rs 400 to Rs 800. For a 5,000-litre tanker, they shell out around Rs 3,000 and for a 12,000-litre tanker, between Rs 5,000 and Rs 7,000.
The chaotic situation is due to the state government’s blind eye towards mushrooming of unauthorised colonies and slums in the city without even realising whether DJB will be able to cater to their water demands. Currently, DJB runs 757 water tankers with GPS. But Delhi requires more water tankers because of irrational water supply and DJP is unable to meet the demands leading to rise in water mafias. Jal Board CEO admits that in few areas of Delhi they water supply in inadequate and in few surplus.
Lutyens’ Delhi is Drought-proof
NDMC, the civic body which manages the Lutyens zone, home to the countries rich and famous, is ‘drought proof’ to the unprecedented crisis that is gripping large areas of the country.
It spends huge amounts of money to keep the Lutyens grass green even if farmers and cattle go without a drop. Since DJB sells 125 million litre water to the rich NDMC, the cost is also on the higher side. The commercial cost of the water supplied by DJB to NDMC is Rs 12,000 per million litre, the per day cost is Rs 27 lakh and the per annum cost is Rs 98 crores.
While many farmers across the country are committing suicide due to scarcity of water around 38 per cent of the 225 ml water goes to waste, informed a high ranking official. The percentage amounts to 85.5 ml wastage per day, figuring to Rs 10 lakh per day and Rs 37 crores per annum.
IMPACT ON FLORA & FAUNA
Due to the drying up and encroachment of water bodies, the variety and density of flora and fauna in many areas of the capital have been drastically reduced.
According to experts, several water bodies were converted into parks by authorities, thus destroying the natural habitat of birds and other species. Water bodies when converted into parks do not sustain ecosystems and thus kill the flora and the fauna in surrounding areas.