Monday, June 25, 2012

An article on the provision of water in Delhi

Back home, water conservation is a part of life now & we’re all conscious of doing our best to save water.

Here’s an article I found on the “Daily Mail” website (I know….a great bastion of journalism) about providing water to a population of over 22 million:

The great water divide: VIP New Delhi area gets as much water as the entire Walled City

PUBLISHED: 22:41 GMT, 24 June 2012 | UPDATED: 00:27 GMT, 25 June 2012

Privileges are raining down on VIPs in the Capital. Two days after the LPG-guzzling propensity of political bigwigs tumbled out of the closet, it has come to light that the New Delhi area - which includes the elite Lutyens Bungalow Zone (LBZ) where ministers, other MPs and top bureaucrats reside - is brimming with water at a time when supply to the rest of the Capital is down to a trickle.

Mail Today has got to the bottom of the stark inequity in the water distribution pattern.

It has found that the exclusive preserve of those wielding power is kept awash in comfort by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), which feeds the New Delhi area around 350-400 litres of water for each individual every day.

By contrast, only about 100 litres is supplied to satisfy the daily needs of every common man even during the months in which there is no shortage.

A senior DJB official concedes: 'The daily per capita consumption of water by VIPs in the New Delhi area is 350-400 litres. Besides, they are entitled to a 24X7 tanker supply facility on a priority basis.'

Another measure of the skewed supply is the distribution of 32 MGD (million gallons a day) in the New Delhi area that has a population of approximately 3.25 lakh. As against this, just about 35 MGD is provided to the entire Walled City where almost 10 times the number (32 lakh) dwells.

The Chandrawal water treatment plant sets aside as much as 30 per cent of the estimated 94 MGD it produces for the New Delhi localities, which are largely inhabited by the country's decision- makers. Karol Bagh has as many people, but gets only 8 MGD.

In some south Delhi localities such as Vasant Kunj, Munirka, Saket and Mehrauli, the distribution losses are in excess of 50 per cent owing to leaking supply lines and poor maintenance. So, the 100 litres of water sanctioned for every individual rarely translates into reality.

 'Even now, despite the Capital's water crisis peaking and the plant functioning at 15-20 per cent below its optimum capacity, we have been instructed to ensure that there is no reduction in the water being supplied to New Delhi,' an engineer at the treatment plant told Mail Today.

The ongoing water spat between Delhi and Haryana, too, has not led to any drop in the generous levels reaching the posh LBZ, where elaborate sprinklers keep sprawling lawns green round the year and frequent car washes give that permanent gleam to VIP fleets.

Officially, the DJB takes refuge in legal provisions. A senior agency official cites the DJB Act and says: 'We are bound by the agreement with the NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Council)...It is laid down and we have to give it (water).'

The official appears to justify the VIP culture, adding: 'It's not as if they (New Delhi) are swimming in water. Ensuring that they get the regular supply without fail is important, considering the area's political significance. It is the country's seat of governance.

The area houses embassies, ministers, other top-ranking politicians, the bureaucracy and the most affluent persons of the Capital.'

To be sure, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit made all the right noises recently when she sought to get the water supply to her official residence slashed. But there is a slim chance of this having actually happened.

It is ironical that a senior bureaucrat in Union urban development ministry makes this succinct observation: 'The government allows itself abundance and takes the lion's share of resources…The privileges of a few are responsible for the problems of the vast majority.' Several other areas of the Capital are victims of the discriminatory distribution.

The Sonia Vihar treatment plant produces about 140 MGD of water and gives around 40 MGD to east Delhi. The rest is shared by the entire south Delhi that lies on one side of Ring Road - from Sarita Vihar to Vasant Kunj.

The result is that Vasant Kunj, which is home to 72,000 people, gets just about 2.5 MGD daily. In the vast expanse over which east Delhi extends, and where about 6 million people live, nearly 40 per cent of the city's population is left to survive on a mere 150 MGD.

This area gets water from the Bhagirathi as well as Sonia Vihar treatment plants. However, the current output from both sources is far from the peak level.

DJB's distribution records show that in crisis months such as May and June, Delhi's 'average per capita availability of water, which is usually 160-170 litres a day, dips even further'.

The agency points out that in this scenario, lowlying east Delhi localities and south Delhi colonies including Lajpat Nagar, Defence Colony, East of Kailash as well as Greater Kailash should consider themselves very fortunate if they get even 100 litres for a single resident's consumption.

The Capital, which relies heavily on neighbouring states such as Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for raw water, has an average demand of potable water of around 1,100 MGD. But the DJB supplies only around 835 MGD. The soaring mercury this time led to a sharp 15 to 20 per cent spike in the demand.

The demand-supply gap during these crisis months, therefore, widened to 465 MGD. Sarcasm dripping in his voice, a senior NDMC reacts thus to the hopeless situation: 'They are VIPs and comparisons cannot be drawn with (New Delhi and) other areas because we all know that they are a pampered lot...The same logic applies when it comes to providing them security cover at the common man's expense.'

IGIA gets only one MGD but is managing well

Imagine managing more than 1.6 lakh people daily with just under 1 million gallons per day (MGD) of water and that too at the country's largest and busiest airport, the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA).

By Delhi Jal Board (DJB)'s own admission, the GMR-owned Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), which built the swanky IGIA, had requested for 6 million gallons a day (MGD) of water but had to be contended with just 1 MGD.

At least one lakh passengers use the airport daily, besides 55,000-60,000 employees working 24/7 in three shifts. DIAL has invested heavily on infrastructure for water recycling, rainwater harvesting and advanced water filtration.

As things stand today, the DJB is supplying DIAL just under 1 MGD, but the airport authorities are managing well and not throwing up their hands in panic like the rest of the city.

DIAL CEO I Prabhakara Rao said: 'Waste water reuse is a priority at the IGIA, which manages its water demand by reusing treated waste water from a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant. The plant operates round the clock to treat the waste water generated at the airport. The treated water then goes through multiple filtration layers and an aeration tank before it is used for flushing and horticulture purposes.'

The plant also comprises of advanced treatment systems such as ultra-filtration and reverse osmosis to process the waste water. Besides, IGIA has more than 300 rainwater harvesting wells.

No comments:

Post a Comment