Water shortage might be on the way to worsen Delhi's COVID-19 crisis

Water shortage might be on the way to worsen Delhi's COVID-19 crisis
Representative image - People in Nagpur fill up on water amid a water shortage in the city on April 3BCCL
  • The national capital of India may be facing a water shortage over the next three days.
  • The water shortage will not only impact the general population, but also hospitals, which are currently reeling from the surge in COVID-19 patients.
  • According to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), Haryana is to blame for reducing the supply of water by 20% to 30% as well as making the water dirtier.
  • The DJB has filed a petition with the Supreme Court to address the issue. The court will hear the cases tomorrow on May 6.
India’s national capital, New Delhi, has been under lockdown for nearly three weeks now, due to the surging number of COVID-19 cases. And a water shortage will only make things worse. The city is already facing a number of shortages as it is, from vaccines to oxygen to medical supplies.

The administration in Delhi saw this coming, more than a month ago. The vice chairman of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), Raghav Chaddha, claims he has even written multiple letters to the Haryana Chief Minister to address the issue, but no resolution has been offered.

With no other option on the table, the DJB finally moved the Supreme Court to help the national capital in its moment of crisis. It told the apex court that there is a critical shortage in water being supplied from the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

Not only will the people in the city suffer at large, the water shortage could hit hospitals as well -- the same hospitals which are currently understaffed and overrun with COVID-19 patients.

"Due to depletion of levels at Wazirabad Pond and reduction in the release of raw water by Haryana into Yamuna, water production has been curtailed from the water treatment plants at Wazirabad, Chandrawal and Okhla.”

Notification by the Delhi Jal Board on May 5

The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana, has decided to hear the matter tomorrow on May 6.

How bad is the water situation in Delhi?

The Yamuna River in Delhi gets around 250 million gallons of raw water from the Upper Ganga Canal. As of April, that flow was down to around which means only around 200 million gallons of water is coming in. As a result there was a shortage of water at the Sonia Vihar and Bhagirathi water treatment plants.

To make matters worse, the water is dirtier than it used to be. The high ammonia concentration in the Yamuna has affected the productivity of the water treatment plants in Chandrawal and Wazirabad. These two plants are responsible for churning out an average of 228 million gallons of water a day for the people of Delhi.

As per the latest estimates, levels at the Wazirabad water treatment plant have fallen by over 1% from the standard level of 674.5 feet to 667.2 feet of water.

Delhi saw the water shortage coming


This is not the first time that the DJB has had to go to the Supreme Court. On March 23, the DJB told the bench headed by CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde that Haryana has plans to cut 20% of its water to Delhi to repair work in one of its canals.

Senior advocate AM Singhvi and advocate Gautam Narayan, appearing for the DJB, urged the court to order Haryana to postpone the work. They argued that a reduction in water supply during the peak summer months would adversely affect the national capital.

At the time, the Supreme Court had ordered Haryana, as well as Punjab and the Bhakra Beas Management Board, to not make any changes to the supply of water to Delhi until April 6. The court then extended the water supply order to April 14.

The following week, on April 19, the Supreme Court appointed a committee to conduct a local inspection with regard to the quality and quantity of water coming in from Haryana to Delhi.

Disputes of water between Delhi and Haryana are not new. They happen every summer when the supply of water is limited and the national capital is dependent on its neighbour to ensure adequate supply.

The only difference this time is the pandemic, which is putting the spotlight back on an already ongoing battle for survival.

This is the full list of areas in Delhi that are likely to be impacted by the water shortage between May 6 to May 8

  1. Civil Lines
  2. Hindu Rao Hospital and adjoining areas
  3. Kamla Nagar
  4. Shakti Nagar and adjoining areas
  5. Karol Bagh
  6. Pahar Ganj and NDMC areas
  7. Old and New Rajinder Nagar
  8. East and West Patel Nagar
  9. Baljeet Nagar
  10. Prem Nagar
  11. Inderpuri and adjoining areas
  12. Kalkaji
  13. Govindpuri
  14. Tughlakabad
  15. Sangam Vihar
  16. Ambedkar Nagar
  17. Prahladpur and adjoining areas
  18. Ramleela Ground
  19. Delhi Gate
  20. Subhash Park
  21. Model Town
  22. Gulabi Bagh
  23. Punjabi Bagh
  24. Jahangirpuri
  25. Moolchand
  26. South Extension
  27. Greater Kailash
  28. Burari and adjoining areas
  29. Parts of the Cantonment areas, South Delhi, Central Delhi, West Delhi and North Delhi
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