Even as taps are running dry in the city, millions of gallons of rainwater goes down the drain every monsoon. Despite knowing that the city goes through an acute water shortage every summer, the authorities lack a definite plan to treat and store stormwater.
The water from stormwater drains is never treated and it ends in Najafgarh drain. Also, the civic authorities are concreting natural drains in certain stretches, which will further aggravate the problem as it will not allow rainwater to percolate into the ground. It will increase the runoff from these areas and possibly flood the low lying areas.
“Over time, these concrete stormwater drains will lead to flooding,” Amit Chaudhery, a naturalist said.
With the city undergoing rapid urbanisation, it is estimated that about 60% of land area will be concreted in the next five to 10 years for construction of roads, buildings and pavements.
Environmentalists say unlined nullahs (natural drains) are critical for preventing waterlogging. “The civic authorities are planning a disaster. They know that rainwater drains should not be cemented,” Vivek Khamboj, an environmentalist, said.
Kamboj also pointed out that by wasting precious water, the city is preparing for a destructive future. “It is clear that concreting of natural drains is flawed and steeped in multiple violations and is in opposition to the court’s judgments.”
He says that instead of deploying time and effort towards replenishing, reclaiming and rejuvenating natural water channels, the local administration has adopted a negative exercise of concreting drains. Kamboj also suggests promoting rainwater harvesting and reviving the few surviving natural water bodies to solve the water crisis.
Haryana Urban Development Authority administrator Yashpal Yadav said that the authority is conducting a survey to identify sites where stormwater can be treated. “We are in the process of identifying sites and by next monsoon, we will be able to create a sustainable system in the city. We have also asked all households and societies to create storage for rainwater, which can be treated later.”