Solve water woes of NCR to boost realty sector
Mar 27, 2014
Source : The Times of India

 

DELHI: As summer sets in, the hapless people of the capital and the NCR will once again face water shortages and the tanker mafia. As is the norm, there will be heated debates on the crisis, but nothing concrete ever happens on the ground.

Water shortage is a major issue confronting the Delhi NCR and deserves the urgent attention of all the stakeholders, especially policy makers and the civic authorities.

As the Lok Sabha election is round the corner, the electorate must demand of the vote-seekers a long-term policy and plan to overcome the recurring water crisis. Let’s start with Delhi-the water shortage here is endemic, and an age-old problem. Come summers, taps go dry in several parts of the city, even as the demand rockets.

According to official estimates, the city’s water demand in peak summer months is over 1,150 million gallons a day, while the city is receives only about 835 million gallons. Experts also say that mismanagement of water resources has added to Delhi’s water woes. Delhi’s water woes are largely the result of its dependency on external sources from the neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, and Uttarakhand.

Another aberration is that Delhi is not really short of water-only that the problem is aggravated in summers owning to gross mismanagement of existing resources, pilferage, and wastage.

As much as 52% of water is wasted because of leakages in the distribution pipeline of the Delhi Jal Board, which is responsible for supplying water in the Delhi region and also for water treatment and waste disposal in the capital.

Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator with the New Delhi-based South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, says, “Delhi has, in fact, more per capita water than cities like Bonn and Amsterdam.”

Delhi’s poor record in sewage treatment is also one of the central causes of the shortage of potable water because if an appreciable per cent of the
sewage water were to be treated and it could be reused for flushing toilets, industrial cleaning, even gardening.

If we talk about Gurgaon, water shortage is the Achilles heel of this millennium city. The city faces a tough time every summer due to huge water scarcity; the silver lining, though, is that the Punjab and Haryana high court has restrained the Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) from issuing new licences for developers in Gurgaon unless they give an undertaking that groundwater would not be consumed for construction work.

It goes without saying even though Gurgaon has emerged as one of the most prominent cities of the NCR, the residents face serious water crisis.

A senior officer of a realty firm says, “I fear that unless the authorities make some alternative arrangements for realty firms, currently building several projects in the area, the projects may languish and lie incomplete for lack of water in the construction.”

The residents of the city launched a signature campaigns recently to raise the issue of water scarcity in Gurgaon and nearby areas. This was undertaken to put pressure on the ministry of water resources to construct Lakhwar, Kesao, and Renuka dams on the Yamuna, Tons and Giri, respectively. The dams would augment the water supply to the Tajewala Barrage- throughout the year-and help supply adequate water to the western Yamuna canal to feed south Haryana, including Gurgaon.

“Water scarcity has been a perennial problem in Gurgaon with no signs of solution in the immediate future,” said R S Rathee, president of the Gurgaon Citizens Council (GCC), which launched the campaign.

Gurgaon and south Haryana receive water from the western Yamuna canal, which has a capacity of 13,000 cusecs (cubic feet per second). In the rainy season, while the canal is filled to capacity, it hardly receives 2,000-3,000 cusecs in the remaining months. Of this, 600 cusecs is supplied to Delhi.

Experts say that constructing mini dams will save the water of Yamuna, which goes to waste during the rainy season. This water can be stored and diverted to the western canal, which could supply water to south Haryana.

It is important that all the stakeholders of the realty sector work in tandem to solve the water woes of Gurgaon. After all, how can you live in a place where there is hardly any regular supply of water!

The high court has not only barred licences for new constructions, even renewal of licences for old projects have been put on stay-current constructions are also under the scanner.

This strengthens the scope of similar strictures issued earlier by the Supreme Court. Gurgaon sees six new launch announcements a month, on average. “It is unfortunate that because of the doing of a few unscrupulous builders, the whole fraternity of developers has to suffer. It is time that all the builders and developers impose strict norms upon themselves and work according to well-laid rules,” Nazma Alimuddin, director of ILD Group, says.

Ajay Agarwal, director of Avalon Group, says that while it is too early to foresee the ramifications of the court order, he fears that the realty market, already sluggish, would further slowdown in the wake of the court order. There are more than 100 mid- and large-size projects in the Gurgaon-Manesar region.

Some experts peg the water demand of Gurgaon at 200 million gallons per day (MGD). While 50MGD flows from civic taps, the remaining 150MGD is extracted from the ground through bore wells. According to one estimate, there are over 30,000 borewells in the district of Gurgaon.

Rainwater harvesting

The public and the policymakers must discuss why we failed to implement rainwater harvesting systems in solving the water problems facing the NCR. It is obvious that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, which governs eight of the nine districts of the capital city, has hardly taken the matter seriously. The unified MCD set aside a measly Rs 5 crore- to be implemented wardwise- for the project in its last budget.

According to Forum of Organized Resource Conservation and Enhancement (Force), an NGO, Delhi receives 900 billion litres in rainfall every year. Experts are of the view that if the rainwater harvesting projects were implemented in earnest across the city, the MCD would have conserved around 300 billion litres of water, which instead went down the sewers, leaving the capital parched. This amount of water can recharge the water table by around 2m in a year, experts say.

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