Explained: The Ongoing Water Crisis In Delhi

Explained: The Ongoing Water Crisis In Delhi

Residents, including women and children, have been seen scrambling to get water from tankers, often finding the supply insufficient to meet their basic daily needs.

Abhishek SinghUpdated: Thursday, June 20, 2024, 10:34 AM IST
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People fill their buckets from a water tanker as water crisis continues, at Vivekananda Camp in New Delhi. | ANI

New Delhi: For the last several days, Delhi has been grappling with an acute water crisis and scenes of chaos have been witnessed in several areas across the city. 

Residents, including women and children, have been seen scrambling to get water from tankers, often finding the supply insufficient to meet their basic daily needs. 

Several clusters in Delhi, including Mayur Vihar-1, Okhla Phase-2, Greater Kailash, Hauz Khas, Lajpat Nagar, Panchsheel Park, and Chittaranjan Park, have experienced severe water cuts. In East Delhi's Geeta Colony, residents have been forced to queue around water tankers to meet their water needs. Piped water supply disruptions have led to long waits and growing frustration among the residents. Besides, this crisis comes amid record-breaking temperatures and severe heatwave warnings which are further adding to the widespread distress. 

So, now the question arises: What led to this water crisis and what are the reasons for the situation getting worse? Let’s understand.

Understanding the roots of the crisis

Delhi's water crisis can be traced back to several critical factors. The primary issue has been the dipping water levels in the Yamuna River, compounded by technical failures at key water treatment plants. The Wazirabad Water Treatment Plant, a major supplier, was operating below capacity from May 12 to 14 and again from May 18 to June 1. This reduction in output coincided with the city's peak summer, leading to a significant surge in water demand.

Water crisis takes a political turn

Delhi Congress president Devendra Yadav with party workers carrying earthen pots stage a protest over the water crisis in the state, at Yusuf Sarai in New Delhi.

Delhi Congress president Devendra Yadav with party workers carrying earthen pots stage a protest over the water crisis in the state, at Yusuf Sarai in New Delhi. | ANI

The whole crisis took a political turn when the AAP government accused Haryana of not releasing sufficient water while raising concerns about a potential nexus between senior officials in Delhi and the notorious tanker mafia. Water Minister Atishi, in a letter to Delhi LG VK Saxena, pointed to the reduction in Delhi Jal Board (DJB)-deployed water tankers and its correlation with the rise of private tanker operations. "This reduction of water tankers deployed by the DJB is what has led to the possible proliferation of private tanker mafia, who are illegally selling water," Atishi stated.

In response to these allegations, LG Saxena directed the police to ensure a strict vigil along the Munak Canal, a critical water supply route from Haryana to Delhi. Multiple police teams have been deployed to patrol a 15-kilometre stretch of the canal to prevent illegal water extraction by tankers.

The Delhi government has also imposed fines on individuals for wasting water, such as washing cars with hoses. During a Supreme Court hearing, the AAP government reiterated its plea for Haryana to release more water. However, the Court criticised the Delhi administration for its failure to curb the activities of the tanker mafia and demanded immediate action.

Efforts and challenges

ANI

Atishi, along with officials from the DJB and Revenue Department, inspected the South Delhi Mains pipeline network, which supplies water from the Sonia Vihar treatment plant to millions of residents. She talked about the need for rigorous patrolling by additional district magistrates and sub-divisional magistrates to prevent water wastage.

Despite these efforts, the city's water production has decreased by 40 million gallons per day (MGD). Without additional water from Haryana, the shortfall cannot be met. 

Solutions

Addressing Delhi's water crisis requires both immediate and long-term strategies. In the short term, the government must ensure equitable water distribution and clamp down on the tanker mafia. This includes improving surveillance along critical water supply routes and increasing the number of DJB tankers to meet the needs of affected areas.

Long-term solutions should focus on sustainable water management practices. Initiatives such as rainwater harvesting, reviving local water bodies, and enhancing wastewater recycling are essential. Public awareness campaigns can play a crucial role in promoting water conservation and responsible usage among residents.

As Delhi battles this ongoing water crisis, the immediate priority is to provide relief to its residents. However, addressing the underlying issues requires a comprehensive and collaborative approach involving government agencies, local communities, and neighbouring states.

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