Delhi to harvest rainwater, collect Yamuna floodwater
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday announced a water conservation project along the river Yamuna, which, he said, will aim at recharging the depleting ground levels in the national Capital. Kejriwal also said the government has made it mandatory for all its buildings to have rainwater harvesting installations.
More than half of India is reeling from drought-like conditions, the India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) latest data shows, with millions struggling for drinking water as lakes dry up and groundwater levels deplete. Chennai is facing crippling shortage of water with daily supply being cut by over 40%. Majority of the city’s population is dependent on water tankers.
The project, approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday, involves creating eco-friendly pits along the river to collect excess floodwater from the Yamuna during the monsoon months, which, in turn, will percolate down to the aquifers in the areas.
The Delhi government said it is going to launch the project on a pilot basis in the upcoming monsoon season. As an experiment, it will create such pits on a 20-kilometre stretch along the Yamuna starting from Palla till Wazirabad. Since this stretch is primarily farmland, the government said it will take land on rent from farmers to create the ponds in a “non-invasive” manner. No cement will be used in creating the pits and the project is expected to cost about Rs 50 crore, the chief minister said.
“We keep reading that the water table is depleting fast in Delhi. Keeping all this in mind, the Delhi government has cleared an ambitious project for water conservation in the Yamuna floodplains. Small ponds will be made. When Yamuna overflows during the monsoons, the overflowing water will fill these ponds. Water will then percolate down and it will spread leading to an increase in the water table of these areas,” Kejriwal said in a press conference after the Cabinet meeting concluded.
Based on the result of the pilot project, the chief minister said the government will implement this plan along the entire 52 km stretch of the Yamuna in Delhi by next year’s monsoon season. As of now the proposal states taking land on lease from the land owners for an initial period of three years.
Before work on the project starts, the Delhi government, however, will need the Centre’s approval. “I recently met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on this issue. The Centre has assured us that it will soon take a decision on this. We have already written to the central water commission, the Central Ground Water Board and Upper Yamuna River Board seeking their concurrence for the project,” Kejriwal said.
He said the Cabinet has also constituted a five-member committee to prepare modalities of the project. The panel has to submit its report on the same by Monday.
“The good thing in Delhi is that the flow of water from Yamuna slope is towards the city and not the other way round, therefore, conservation of rain water is possible. Had the slope been towards the river Yamuna, then the rain water would have flown towards the river. The project consultant has also indicated the sites where conservation is possible. Most of the land in this region gets submerged in water during monsoon season rendering it unuseful for the farmers,” the CM said.
In addition to this, Kejriwal said the Delhi government is already working on a project to rejuvenate 250 lakes across the national capital and that the required funds for the same have already been released.
Welcoming the move, Manoj Mishra, convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, said the plan will be a win-win situation for all and that the Northern side of the river in the Capital is perfect for the project.