All that MCD talk about rainwater harvesting to help solve Delhi's chronic water problem has turned out to be just that - talk. The unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi in its last budget had set aside Rs. 5 crore for the project, to be implemented ward-wise.
The idea was to create several catchments areas so that the water table could rise in all zones under the civic body.
But it turns out that only one councillor out of 272 took up the project in his area."We kept aside Rs. 5 crore but the fund couldn't be utilised by the councillors," said Subhash Arya of the newly-formed South Delhi Municipal Corporation, who is also the lone councillor to spend about Rs. 12 lakh on the installation of four rainwater-harvesting systems in his then ward, west Delhi's Subhash Nagar.
Arya now looks after the Rajouri Garden ward.
The Capital's water demand is 1,100 million gallons a day (MGD), of which the Delhi Jal Board said it provides around 830 MGD.
According to the NGO Forum of Organised Resource Conservation and Enhancement (Force), Delhi receives 900 billion litres of rainfall every year.
"Had this project been implemented properly, the MCD would have conserved around 300 billion litres of water, which instead went into the sewers, leaving the Capital parched. This amount of water can recharge the water table by around 2 meter in a year," said Force president Jyoti Sharma.
"Delhi doesn't need to look to Haryana for water. Enough is available within its boundaries."
"If corporators are spending money on fancy lights in parks when they should have made the rainwater harvesting project their priority, it shows they are in the dark about the city's need. But perhaps it is easier to make money with fancy lights," said information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, who had ordered the unified MCD to erect boards in each ward for funds spent from councillors' funds in a bid to bring in more transparency.