Over the next three years, about 1,799 unauthorised colonies are expected to come under the Delhi Jal Board’s piped water and sewage network, according to officials. This would help in reducing the reliance of these colonies on water tankers, private suppliers and bottled water. It would also reduce the amount of untreated domestic effluents that enter the Yamuna through drains that pass through these colonies.
However, a shortfall in raw water availability with DJB to cater to the city’s growing water demand and a reluctance by the public to take household connections from the sewage network are some of the challenges the Board is tackling. Delhi’s drinking water demand on average in winters is around 1,100 million gallons per day (MGD), which increases up to 1,400 in summer. The Board’s water production capacity falls short against this, averaging around 925 MGD, which translates into rationing of water supply in some areas where lines have been laid.
Figures shared by DJB officials show that of 1,799 unauthorised colonies, water lines have been laid in 1,622 and supply has been released in 1,571 as of January. “In the remaining 51 colonies, water would be released as soon as it is available to us… we expect to complete work of laying pipelines by 2023-24 in all colonies where it is feasible,” an official said.
Even in some of these colonies where piped water is being supplied for a fixed time in the morning and evening, it is rationed to alternate days — such as areas in South Delhi’s Sangam Vihar and Southeast Delhi’s Okhla.
At least three projects are in the pipeline to increase raw water availability with the DJB. One of them is reusing treated wastewater from the Coronation Pillar sewage treatment plant (STP). The plan is to treat wastewater with advanced technologies to purify it above the discharge norms for STPs and release it into the Yamuna, close to Delhi’s northern border at Palla, as per DJB officials. This water would then travel several kilometres down the river, which would purify it further through natural processes, before being picked up to be sent to water treatment plants at Wazirabad, adding around 70 MGD to water production capacity. The STP is expected to be completed by June, as per an affidavit submitted by the Delhi government’s Delhi government’s urban development department to the National Green Tribunal in January.
“Another plan is to take raw water from UP in exchange for treated wastewater from Delhi. Talks are underway with authorities on this, and if approved, it would give us around 140 MGD of raw water,” a DJB official said.
The third plan, expected to augment water capacity by 130 MGD, has already been approved in the form of an MoU signed with the Himachal Pradesh government in December 2019. “This water is available to us but the Haryana government has to tell the Upper Yamuna River Board how this water would be transported to Delhi,” a DJB official said.
In terms of sewage pipelines, which are expected to decrease the load of pollution going into the Yamuna, out of 1,799 unauthorised colonies, lines have been laid and notified in 561, as per the Delhi government affidavit given to the NGT.
Work is underway in 593 colonies, which is expected to be completed by 2024 in a phased manner. In 512 colonies, which are in “far flung rural areas”, the government is awaiting allotment of land for setting up decentralised STPs.
“Three years time will be required (for laying the pipeline) after availability of land for decentralised STPs…” the affidavit read.
In areas where the sewage network was laid, the Delhi government under the Mukhyamantri Muft Sewer Connection Yojana, was providing free household connections to the main pipeline until March last year.
This meant that consumers who applied for a connection did not have to pay development charges, connection charges or road-cutting charges.
As per the government’s estimates, a 25-square-metre house was saving over Rs 19,000 under the scheme and a 100-square-metre house was saving more than Rs 26,000.
“It has been noted, however, that even after pipelines have been laid, the response of consumers in taking connections to the sewage network has been poor,” an official said.
In a DJB board meeting on Thursday, water minister Satyendar Jain extended the Sewer Yojana to around 50 more colonies where sewage lines have been laid in the hope to bring them under the Jal Board’s network.
“In terms of water, it is a necessity for people, so naturally they will take household connections after the pipeline is laid. However, the point of sewage pipeline connectivity is reducing pollution in the Yamuna. Until some sort of compulsion is developed, we may not see everyone taking these connections,” a DJB official said.
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