May is the cruelest month for the residents of Delhi but this year severe water crisis began from April itself. This has apparently nothing to do with temperatures in Delhi as they are still within tolerable limits. PM-designate, Narendra Modi has promised water for every farm of the country but is there enough water to distribute? He has also promised to revive Ganga based on the Sabarmati model and now we hope the same for Yamuna after he takes charge.
Water Scarcity in Delhi
Last month water scarcity was so severe that that flow of water came down to a trickle and forced people from several areas, especially south, southwest and central Delhi to call for water tankers. Apparently unregulated construction work in south and southwest Delhi are to be blamed for depleting groundwater levels. Parts of west Delhi including Janakpuri and Vikas Nagar also bear the brunt of water crisis.
Distribution of water does not function properly as the crisis is beyond a mere demand-supply issue, agreed a senior Delhi Jal Board (DJB) official while speaking with the media last month. The population of Delhi has been increasing every year but the actual supply water remains the same. Wastage of water is also rampant in Delhi with 40 per cent of its supply lost due to leakages and damaged supply lines and thus, water hardly reaches the end user in the distribution chain.
Save Yamuna, Save Life
The extent of pollution of the Yamuna River is so shocking that it now has a thick layer of foam covering it completely. Yamuna quite often is described as a 'dead river' since pollution in the river has surpassed levels for fish or other marine life to survive. Several environmentalists including the Yamuna Rakshak Dal have been raising the Yamuna issue with political parties but nothing much has been done about it.
After the World Health Organisation’s urban air quality database released last week rang an alarming bell on Delhi’s high air pollution levels, Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung formed a high-power committee to look into pollution levels in the city.
In a public statement, Najeeb Jung expressed his concern over growing pollution levels in the national capital and said that “it is our moral responsibility to provide a healthy environment to our citizens. If we have to ensure health of our cities, we will have to take stern steps against pollution and polluting units."
The committee formed by Najeeb Jung will examine all aspects of pollution including increasing pollution in the Yamuna River due to industrial and sewage discharges. As per mandate, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee has begun its work and 112 stainless steel picking units in Wazirpur industrial area received notices for illegally discharging untreated toxic wastes into the Yamuna.
Surprisingly, political parties in India ignored environmental issues like water scarcity and ecological decline. Their manifestos merely touched environment and hardly spoke about increasing air pollution and prognoses that India will have only half the water supply required by 2030.
According to the World Bank, environmental degradation is responsible for 25 per cent of the country's 1.6 million deaths among children every year and costs 5.7 per cent of its annual gross domestic product.
The Bharatiya Janata Party mentioned water scarcity predictions in its manifesto but proposed expensive solutions like desalination plants and river-linking. Modi's emotive speech in Varanasi saying "Mujhe Ma Ganga ne bulaya hai," declaring Ganga as a national project, has worked magic on the masses and now all we can do is hope that it was not just a poll plank.
Globally, environmentalists and scientists are of the belief that the water scarcity along with Global warming will be two of the biggest destabilisers for future. ‘The World Water Development Report’ released by the UNESCO recently states that by 2050 water demand globally will increase by 55 per cent. Asia would then be the biggest hotspot for water conflicts.
picture courtesy- Daniel Berehulak & India.com