The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government on Friday banned the use of fresh groundwater in city parks, asking land-owning and civic agencies to buy treated waste water for horticulture purposes.
The move will help tide over Delhi’s perennial water crisis and also monetise reclaimed water. The government will now ask the Union government’s Central Ground Water Board to issue a notification to this effect.
The capital has 8,000-odd parks maintained by various public authorities such as the public works department and the municipal corporations. About 80 MGD (million gallons per day) of water, sufficient for one-tenth of Delhi, is used for horticulture purposes.
The draft of Delhi’s first water policy also says the Capital must increase its recycled wastewater use to 25% by 2017, 50% by 2022 and at least 80% by 2027.
This is to meet its non-drinking requirements and reduce fresh water use. There is miniscule use of cleaned up waste water now.
“They will now have to purchase treated waste water at Rs 7 per kilo litre. This means revenue of Rs 100 crore per year to the Delhi Jal Board. Agencies buying this reclaimed water will have to develop the required infrastructure and DJB tankers will make the supply,” said a source.
DJB chairman and Delhi’s deputy CM Manish Sisodia took the decision during a meeting with various land-owning and municipal agencies.
Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan welcomed the move but cautioned that for its success the government must separate sewage, industrial waste and storm run-off. “Otherwise, how else would you treat and use the toxic cocktail that flows in common drains,” he said.
Officials say DJB has the potential of reclaiming 500 MGD of waste water. Sanjay Sharma, research head at Citizens Front for Water Democracy, said, “About 150-200 MGD can be sold (the rest needs to flown into the Yamuna for environmental reasons), DJB will earn more than Rs 200 crore per annum.”
The water utility gets surface water from Yamuna, Sutlej and Ganga. It also extracts ground water with bore wells. Despite a network of 11,350-km-long pipelines the demand-supply gap is 265 MGD.
The demand-supply deficit results in illegal bore wells being used. This causes groundwater level depletion---by a maximum of 1.44 metres per year. The latest move will reduce the use of illegal bore wells.
“If waste water is cleaned up at local levels instead of only at big plants more recycling and re-use is possible,” Misra said.
When AAP was in power for 49 days, it had tried to make it a policy decision. The plan could not roll out because then chief minister Arvind Kejriwal resigned.