The Planning Commission’s environment index for 2012 has ranked Delhi quite low on different environmental parameters. The Capital is placed at the 30th position among 35 states and union territories.
High air pollution, low groundwater level and inadequate facilities to treat hazardous waste has earned Delhi this dubious distinction. As per a latest Central Pollution Control Board report, particulate matter in Chandni Chowk was highest for any location in India.
The plan panel’s report for Delhi’s annual plan (2013-14) says the water drawn from the ground was ‘unsustainable’ at 138%. While south Delhi was extracting an alarming 201% of ground water, east Delhi wasn’t far off at 180%. East and south Delhi are two of the city’s water-scarce districts.
Moreover, the city isn’t even trying to improve the groundwater level. Of the 300 restorable water bodies, only 121 have been restored, the panel said. It has asked the city government to seek the help of the Central Ground Water Authority for better aquifer management.
Another area of concern is Delhi’s inability to find space for treating its increasing hazardous waste. The government’s bid to set up hazardous treatment and disposal facility in Rajasthan has failed as the state government has refused to provide land. Even Haryana is unwilling to provide it land. Setting up a facility within the city is difficult.
Of the 750 million gallons of sewage generated in the city every day, Delhi has capacity to treat only 535 million gallons. Even that capacity is not being fully utilised, the panel has said. The result: A dead Yamuna.
The only positive in the report is that the city has managed to maintain its green cover.