Gurgaon has a joke. It goes like this: “The only time Gurgaon has ample water is when it rains and the roads get waterlogged.” The irony is that it’s not just a joke; it’s a sick take on the water situation in Gurgaon.
In 2007, the Central Ground Water Body had predicted that Gurgaon would run out of groundwater by 2017. Looking at the situation on the ground—a steep drop in groundwater levels and dry borewells—the Millennium City is looking at a thirsty future.
Residents say, the water supply by Haryana Urban Development Authority is enough for 10-11 lakh people. About 15 lakh people survive on groundwater.
HUDA supplies just 6 million gallons per day (MGD) to private colonies against a demand of 26 MGD. DLF City needs 8 MGD, but gets barely 0.8 MGD. Groundwater meets the remaining demand. Till a couple of months back, before HUDA started supplying them canal water, about 3,000 residents of U-block in DLF City III depended completely on groundwater. The same was the case with the 144-acre DLF Cybercity, home to many MNCs.
“Supplying residents with water from any source was a licensing condition put by the Haryana government till the time the latter supplied it. As the government failed to supply adequate water, we had no option but to extract groundwater. As against 80 feet 10 years back, the groundwater level has fallen to more than 200 feet,” said an officer of the private developer DLF.
The situation in Gurgaon where the groundwater level fell by about 6 metres (21 feet) between 2006 and 2008 is going from bad to worse with every passing day. HUDA’s failure to supply treated canal water, forced the residents to dig for groundwater in areas such as DLF City, Sushant Lok and Palam Vihar.
Recently, the city’s groundwater extraction rate was recorded at 5 to 6 metres a year. “In Suncity, which has 1,280 houses, the borewells dried up recently and we had to dig about five feet deeper to get water. In the last one year, we have dug about 21 feet deeper to reach the groundwater level. HUDA water supply, at five per cent here, is negligible,” said Abhey Punia, president, Suncity RWA. However, in D-block in DLF City (I), the borewells have gone dry even at 200 feet.
Depleting groundwater isn’t the only problem. The HUDA water supply has its own set of woes. “The HUDA supply stops in case there is a power failure as the facility does not have a power back,” said R.S. Rathee, a DLF City resident and president of social organization Gurgaon Citizen’s Council.
Recently, the HUDA water supply line burst near Sector 5, leaving areas such as Palam Vihar, Sector 21, 22, 23 and 23A waterless for a week. “Ten days on, we are still ordering private water tankers,” Chander Kanta Kumar, a Palam Vihar resident.