Delhi water crisis returns, 5 million likely to be affected today

  • HT Correspondent, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 29, 2016 01:54 IST
Delhi Jal Board tankers spill water while refilling at the Delhi Jal Board Pumping Station on February 24, 2016 (Saumya Khandelwal / HT Photo )

Around five million people are likely to be affected on Monday by the latest water crisis to hit Delhi which was forced to shut three treatment plants due to highly contaminated supply from Haryana.

North Delhi, central Delhi and Dwarka and Palam in the southwest may go without water, two days after the water plants were shut as pollutants from the Panipat dye drain -- carrying untreated sewage and industrial waste -- pushed Yamuna’s ammonia levels alarmingly high.

“Based on the reports that I got, it can be seen that poisonous water is being dumped into the waters in Haryana in some places… it is irresponsible behaviour as we have been forced to shut down plants,” Delhi minister Kapil Mishra said on Sunday.

Ammonia levels rose to around 4 parts per million in the Wazirabad pond as opposed to the acceptable 0.5 parts per million, considered safe for drinking.

At the drain in Panipat — a textile industry hub 86km from Delhi — ammonia levels were recorded at 56 ppm, said Mishra, also the chairperson of the Delhi Jal Board, the city’s water distributor.

The Wazirabad pond supplies water to the Wazirabad, Chandrawal and Okhla water treatment plants. The Dwarka plant is already shut because of the damage to the Munak Canal.

The second water crisis comes within a week of large parts of the Capital running dry during the Jat agitation for quota in government jobs and colleges in neighbouring Haryana that saw widespread violence and huge damage to public property. Bulk of Delhi’s water comes from Haryana.

Protesters not only laid siege to the canal but also caused extensive damage to the city’s lifeline that brings 400 million gallons of water — 45% of the total supply — every day.

Though the stir ended a few days ago, the supply is yet to normalise in Delhi, which even at the best of times is short of water. High ammonia levels led to closure of the plants last week as well but the situation improved within two days.

The shutting down of the four of the nine plants means Delhi will be short of 280 million gallons on Monday.

“We have requested Haryana to shut down the Panipat drain, especially since the Munak canal is broken and water is being re-routed to Delhi from elsewhere (drains 2 and 8),” Mishra said.

After getting pollution under control, the plants had on Friday managed to supply around 820 million gallons. DJB supplies 900 million gallons of water per day.

DJB has also identified algae at the mouth of drain 2 in Panipat as a problem as they can choke the filters of the treatment plants. The board plans to write to the Central Pollution Control Board, home secretary, and Union ministry of water resources to look into the matter.

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