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Delhi water bodies go under, almost

In a blow to conservation efforts, of the 629 water bodies identified by government agencies, as many as 232 cannot be revived for various reasons.

delhi Updated: Feb 03, 2011 00:01 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

In a blow to conservation efforts, of the 629 water bodies identified by government agencies, as many as 232 cannot be revived for various reasons.

A reply by Delhi's Urban Development department to a query by Vinod Jain under the Right to Information (RTI) Act provided a break-up of the status of 629 water bodies, along with one that was later added to the list under the Irrigation and Flood Control department (I&FC).

A majority of the 175 that cannot be revived come under the Delhi government's I&FC department, apart from 16 others, where legal disputes have prevented any work to be taken up.

Further, it mentions that 37 water bodies under Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and four under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) cannot be revived for various reasons.

"I needed to check the number of water bodies that have been revived and those that cannot be revived. After all, the authorities are putting in so much of money and time into it," said Jain, from NGO Tapas, who had filed a PIL in the Delhi High Court for the revival of Delhi's water bodies.

Explaining the reason for the failure to revive more than 200 water bodies, Rakesh Mehta, Delhi chief secretary said, "These have been urbanised. Hundreds of people stay there, how can you remove them?"

Is that reason enough? A case in point is the Satpula Lake near Khirkee village.

Said Naresh Chauhan, president of Khirkee residents' welfare association, "Debris is dumped onto the lake's bed. There is encroachment on the northern end. The authorities do nothing to stop it and then provide reasons."

However, there's still some reason to cheer.

"From the monitoring reports, it is clear that of the 387 water bodies that have been revived, about 80 have some water. In the rest of them, the recharge pits have enabled ground water recharge and hence, the water bodies have little or no water," Jain said. "Either way, this is good."