The Delhi government has drafted a Rs 19,500-crore master plan that aims to fix the Capital’s failing wastewater management system and reduce pollution in the Yamuna by building pipe networks and clean-up centres.
The city’s 35 wastewater treatment plants (WTPs) can at best deal with only 40% of the total sewage generated every day because of their inadequate number, blocked trunk sewer lines and half the city — mostly unauthorised colonies — lacking a sewerage system. The rest of the discharge flows directly into the Yamuna through rainwater drains, reducing the river, which meets 70% of Delhi’s water needs, to a noxious black thread.
Apart from addressing these concerns, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) Sewerage Master Plan 2031 will tackle contamination of surface and groundwater as well as soil, all major public health risks.
“The plan is being sent to NGOs, IITs, and other organisations for suggestions and comments so that it can be finalised by October,” said a DJB official.
The government-run DJB, responsible for supplying potable water to most parts of the Capital, faced criticism in the latest comptroller and auditor general (CAG) report, which said, “Delhi Jal Board was formed in 1998 to manage sewage but is yet to have a sewerage master plan.”
The blueprint proposes a 10,000-km pipe network, 75 WTPs and integration of various ongoing sewerage projects. The plan also focuses on areas where a sewage pipe network exists, but a lot of households have not been connected.
Sewerage shortfall also results in damage to storm water drains that causes urban flooding during monsoon and inhibits groundwater recharge. The Public Works Department, for instance, carries wastewater in its 324-km-long storm drain system which was built to carry rainwater only. Municipal corporations and other land-owning agencies are in a similar situation.
“We have set a three-year target for ensuring that all the wastewater – 3,800 million litres – generated every day in Delhi is treated, ensuring no raw waste flows into the Yamuna,” said a senior government official.