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As water crisis looms, Delhi must do more

June 10, 2024

NEW DELHI – The heatwave this year has exposed the urban water crisis in the national capital. The scorching heat and record high temperatures in Delhi are accompanied with an acute water shortage. People are queuing up in the heat to collect water from tankers and the economically weaker section is the worst affected. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has ordered Himachal Pradesh to release 137 cusecs of surplus water and has asked Haryana to cooperate in its safe passage to Delhi via River Yamuna. Delhi, on its part, must ensure no wastage of this additional water being received from Himachal Pradesh. Delhi primarily depends on the Yamuna for meeting its water requirement.

The river originates in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand and flows through Himachal Pradesh and along the Haryana-Uttar Pradesh border before entering Delhi. At Delhi, it is tapped by the Wazirabad barrage from where water is sent for treatment and subsequent supply. The water level at Wazirabad barrage reservoir has dipped considerably resulting in less water availability for treatment and supply. The Delhi Government has blamed Haryana for insufficient supply of water in the river. The Haryana Government has quickly refuted the charges stating that water over and above the agreed quantity is being released by it. Delhi’s water crisis is largely a result of its own inactions; a direct consequence of unplanned urban development.

The Delhi Government’s Economic Survey report has recorded the consistent increase in water demand of the city – all the way to 1,290 million gallons per day (MGD). Water production and supply, however, has remained limited at 935 to 1,000 MGD. It is as if the city is under a perpetual “Day Zero” situation, where the