Deteriorating water table in Delhi is worrying. It’s alarming how Delhi’s groundwater table is diminishing steadily at a pace that could leave the capital engaging in a ‘water conflict’ for every single drop in less than a decade.
On the other hand, numbers are numbering with an increasing population growth coupled with migration causing an increase in demands of the commodities resulting in industrial development followed by changing dynamics of the urbanicity in Delhi. To gain control over resources, the human intervention such as cutting down of forest land and trees is playing a significant role in maintaining the groundwater table and it also attracts rains. (The process is called transpiration) All These factors have imposed a huge stress and threat over the limited water resource available and serving institutions.
Coming to the total geographical extent of Delhi which is 1484 sq km, it is the second largest agglomeration in the world with a population of around 24.45 million. There are certain countries in Europe and Latin America whose population is as half of Delhi.
The national capital receives on an average of 790 mm of annual rainfall, which majorly falls during monsoon months. The pouring of rain has remained quite inconsistent over the past few years. The groundwater table is extensively dependent upon the hydrological process. It has been unequally distributed over all nine districts of Delhi. The capital has significantly been affected by the water crisis as the perennial river Yamuna has become a curse by tormenting pollution, which has created pressure on the groundwater table. Also, the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) report revealed that the groundwater level is declining by 0.5 to 2 meters annually in most parts of Delhi.
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Focusing on universal rights on water, the AAP government has kept its promise by giving relief to people under free water scheme, by providing approximately 670- liter of water free per day in every household. As a result of the water policy, there is a careless populism, which is making people careless resulting in wastage of the limited resource as there is no suitable price for water.
Making irresponsible and reluctant people understand the value of water is the need of the hour. Also, the decision to charge above 670 liters is promoting the manipulation of water meters on a gigantic scale, rather than rationalizing the utilization of resources which is vital for survival for mankind. It has also brought a few questions such as, why free water if we are able to pay for it? Not just the scheme is confined to marginalized slums but it also includes affluent class and those who have unlawfully built several floors beyond the authoritative limits. A lot of unpermitted colonies in Delhi do it.
As it’s been rightly said ‘It’s never too late’ we can still address the issues by understanding the need of water. Sustainable practices such as conserving, water harvesting, desalination, and water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies to carter the necessities of the society and ensure sustainable development can be implemented. The rate of population growth in India also needs to be monitored with effective policy building and governance.