Delhi stares at acute water shortage

Areas across Delhi will face major water shortage from Wednesday as two major treatment plants in the capital were completely shut down on Tuesday after high-level of pollutants and ammonia were found in raw water supplied by Haryana.

PTI| Updated: Dec 24, 2014, 10:33 AM IST

New Delhi: Areas across Delhi will face major water shortage from Wednesday as two major treatment plants in the capital were completely shut down on Tuesday after high-level of pollutants and ammonia were found in raw water supplied by Haryana.

The "abnormal rise" in pollutants in raw water forced Delhi Jal Board to close the Wazirabad and Chandrawal water treatment plants for the first time and Lt Governor Najeeb Jung has asked Haryana government as well as Central Pollution Control Board to intervene urgently.

Almost one third of Delhi's population residing in the Walled city, Central Delhi, South Delhi and parts of North Delhi will be affected and supply of water has already been hit in some areas, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) said yesterday.

It said rise in release of industrial affluents by Haryana into Yamuna has resulted in increase in ammonia level to a high of 2.6 mg per litre (mgl) against the limit of 0.2 mgl.

"The raw water supply from the river Yamuna has been badly affected due to the release of industrial pollutants coming from the Sonepat and Panipat drains. Today, the ammonia level has touched an all time high of 2.6 mgl," a top official of DJB said.

He said the DJB had been raising with Haryana the issue of release of untreated industrial waste into the Yamuna but to no avail.

"No concrete measures have been taken by Haryana to keep a check on the rising level of pollutants in the Yamuna water from which comes to Wazirabad pond from where it goes to the two treatment plants," the official said. 

The Delhi Jal Board said Haryana government had assured the Delhi government and the Union Environment Ministry two years ago that it would take long term measures to manage pollution entering from the Panipat drain into the Yamuna.

"But unfortunately, despite repeated persuasion by DJB, nothing has been done. Looking at the seriousness of the matter, if necessary steps are not taken immediately, the people of the city may have to face acute shortage of water in the coming days," the DJB said in a statement.

In order to meet the situation, water for drinking purpose is being supplied in the affected areas through tanker services.

In case of emergency, the DJB advised people to contact their nearest zonal offices or call the toll free number-1916.

"Normal production shall be restored at both the plants as soon as the pollution level recedes," it said.

The water treatment at the two plants was affected partially many times in the past.

Even as plants are restarted by Wednesday, it may take two-three days to restore normal water supply, the DJB official said.