No water shortage, but no water
By Tarun Nangia - NEW DELHI
Published: 24th Jun 2012 08:43:09 AM
Don’t believe the government. There’s no water shortage in Delhi. The scarcity is totally artificial—a result of administrative mismanagement, water burglary, misuse, and the tanker mafia acting in collusion with politicians with business interests.
Delhi has more than enough water for the personal consumption needs of its 1.65 crore residents. The math is simple: the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) pumps 850 million gallons of treated water into its water pipelines every day. The raw water for the capital’s four functional treatment plants is sourced mostly from the Yamuna, Ganga, and Sutlej rivers via Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. That means every individual can be supplied about 200 litres of water—about 10 regular buckets.
That’s only about half of it. About 600 MGD of water with the DJB is “grey”, or reusable. Add that to the per capita figure, and every Delhiite should get about 330 litres of water per day; about 65 buckets of water for a family of four, almost two-thirds of it treated. By either figure, Delhi is surely one of the world’s water-surplus cities. The average Singapore citizen uses a measly 150 litres of water a day, a Londoner uses 170 litres, and Germany’s per capita daily consumption is just 122 litres. By our own standards, Delhi is well ahead of the 135 litres per person per day that Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation (CPHEEO) thinks is ideal.
The city has a network of water pipes measuring almost 10,000 km. So poor is the condition that almost half of the water pumped into it is lost. The network doesn’t even reach half of the city’s burgeoning population. Hotels and commercial establishments use up a significant amount of the water supplied, DJB officals say in defence, offering figures of up to a third of the total. Such a large quantity of water going down the commercial hole may need more than a pinch of salt to believe in, but even if true, it would still leave the average Delhiite with enough water.
Why then does Delhi go all thirsty and sweaty every summer? The answer can be given in three Ms: Mismanagement, Misuse, and Mafia. “Delhi is not in need of any more water, rather it has been overprovided with water. It just has to properly manage all the water it has. Delhi only needs to manage its existing water supply in a equitable manner. This will require cost, and the capital would have to overhaul its pipeline network. It will need to have functional sewage and water treatment plants. Not enough funds are being pumped towards this purpose.”