The other day I came across an item in my scrapbook which seemed to be out of the ordinary. it was about a news item from Delhi where it was reported that groundwater was depleting yet there were few takers for recycled treated water. A report from the capital of the country says that around 200 mgd (million gallons per day) waste water which could be used for horticulture has found no takers. Finding no use, it is being released into the Yamuna River. The River is so highly polluted that the released treated water would hardly make any impact.
Reports also say that the agencies in the capital managing parks like the municipal corporations and DDA would rather use scarce ground water than the available treated waste water. This is besides the Delhi Jal Board orders prohibiting extraction of ground water for horticulture but none it seems is in favour of using the treated water. While this is the truth another truth is that the ground water in Delhi, which falls in the Indo Gangetic basin, is witnessing falling levels and yet the agencies managing parks do not relent and keep extracting ground water for horticultural purposes.
It seems only 20% of the recycled water is being made use of and the rest is piped into Yamuna. While the water recycling capacity is increasing and is now at 500mgd only around 300mgd is being utilized. About 200mgd is being released into the river in addition to what is called mandated release of 240mgds. The existing Yamuna Committee has requested the NGT to issue necessary directions to all concerned.
According to the Delhi Jal Board Sewage Treatment Plants are located within 5 kilometres of the parks where the treated water is required to be used but it seems the agencies concerned find the distance too much. They want that the treatment plants should be within one or two kilometers of the parks. The DDA, it seems, has said that the pipes get choked by the silt which discourages them to use the recycled water.
While these are all facile unacceptable excuses the Delhi Administration will do well to force the agencies concerned to use the recycled water for horticulture. It must be pointed out to them that recycling plants have been established at great cost in order to save wasteful use of water. And, these cannot be established next to where the waste water is required. The DDA’s argument of choking of pipes are untenable as many municipalities now use easily available de-chocking machines. The prohibition to use ground water for horticulture should be strictly enforced for compliance by all, including the public agencies.
It should also be kept in mind that Delhi is the capital of the country and whatever happens here has an impact all over. Many small cities in and around Delhi will take cue from it and become profligate in use of groundwater. This would be a crime in these days when the country is reeling under water scarcity It is only to combat it the Government of India has created Jal Shakti Ministry. The Delhi Government needs to come down heavily on those who are defying its ban.