Lack of access to clean drinking water is not limited to India’s hinterland. As many as 24.8% Delhi’s households don’t get piped treated water. In fact, several colonies get water that is as good as sewage.
Delhi’s Economic Survey 2012-13 shows that the Capital has a network of about
11,350 km of water supply mains, of which, a significant portion is as old as 40-50 years and prone to leakages that cause huge losses. Plugging of leaks can help save a substantial quantity of water and ensure quality by controlling contamination in the distribution network. For clean water
And it is not just about the quality of the pipeline network. The reach of the network is also not enough. About 32.53 lakh people not covered through pipelines were supplied 1000.94 million gallons water through tankers during 2011-12.
Availability of water has been a major issue. For a population of 1.7 crore, the DJB is able to garner 835 million gallons (MGD) of water per day from all sources against a demand of 1,025 MGD. It has a network length of 14,000 km pipelines. 310 km pipelines have been added and 200 km repaired in 2012-2013.
But despite this, a large chunk of population is left to fend for itself.
Impure, unsafe, inadequate water
HT visited three different areas across the city. From the walled city, the oldest of the areas, to the Bhalswa, a slum resettlement colony and Rana Pratap Bagh, a plotted, planned colony. Varied in terms of housing and population, they were bound by a common thread — contamination and inadequate supply, and DJB’s apathy.
Dunu Roy of Hazard Centre — a think tank — found nothing unusual in the situation. Hazard Centre had carried out studies for groundwater and tap water quality in recent years. Of the 74 samples from groundwater, only two were fit for drinking. “The deeper you go, the higher the concentration of fluoride in the water,” Roy said.
“At the treatment plants, DJB uses only chlorination but has no means to deal with dissolved pollutants,” said Roy.
Despite mails, phones and verbal requests to the DJB spokesperson and the CEO since April 2, there was no response about specific cases that HT referred to (See case studies).
“It needs time to locate the faults. Sometimes, we even need to isolate a bunch of houses. Whenever needed, we change our pipelines but most of the time, the problem lies with the consumers’ ferrule, which they fail to replace,” DJB CEO Debashree Mukherjee said.She defended the water quality. “We lift 350-400 samples per day at various locations. There has been a 12% increase in our sample collection for quality testing over last year. We have internal checks and have a third party check done through National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).”
A recent Comptroller and Auditor General report punched holes into DJB’s claim about third party checks. CAG said: “Of the 19 cases pertaining to the period from July 2011 to September 2011 test checked, in five cases (26%), no remedial action was taken by the zonal offices on rechecking. As a result substandard potable water was used by the public.”
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