About 20 representatives of different resident welfare associations (RWAs) spent their Saturday afternoon pondering over ways to tackle environmental pollution at the Epicentre in Gurgaon ahead of Earth Day on April 22.
At a presentation organized by commonfloor.com, a real estate portal, four speakers sensitized residents about the adverse affects of pollution and suggested effective ways to mitigate its impact. The main topic of discussion was water shortage and water pollution.
With nearly 70% of the city’s water coming from tubewells and the remaining 30% from the Haryana Urban Development Association (Huda) and the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG), the residents fear perennial shortage in the summers.
“There are around 30,000 tube wells in Gurgaon. But, the city is based on hard rock, which indicates that the deeper you dig in, the lesser water you get. Studies have also revealed that by 2015, there will be no water in these tubewells,” said Nitya Jacob, a development and communications professional.
“Residential complexes or societies should use chemical water softeners to purify the water for the entire building,” he added.
Pragya Kuchhal, a resident of Sector 23, said, “If roads are laid properly, half of the problem of air pollution will be solved.” Anju Goel, a researcher at TERI, spoke on improving air quality in apartments and emphasised the need to keep plants.
According to Neha Kumar, a radiation specialist, the presence of mobile towers in residential areas gives rise to a host of health problems like headaches, joint pains, memory problems, miscarriages, fatigue and sometimes even cancer.
“Huda, MCG and the deputy commissioner are working in three different directions. We need one single authority that can look into our problems. Moreover, like Delhi, Gurgaon needs a Jal Board for proper distribution of water to all sectors,” said RS Rathee, president of Gurgaon Citizens’ Council.
Lack of access to clean drinking water is not limited to India’s hinterland. As many as 24.8% Delhi’s households don’t get piped treated water. In fact, several colonies get water that is as good as sewage.
Delhi’s Economic Survey 2012-13 shows that the Capital has a network of about 11,350 km of water supply mains, of which, a significant portion is as old as 40-50 years and prone to leakages that cause huge losses. Plugging of leaks can help save a substantial quantity of water and ensure quality by controlling contamination in the distribution network. For clean water.
And it is not just about the quality of the pipeline network. The reach of the network is also not enough. About 32.53 lakh people not covered through pipelines were supplied 1000.94 million gallons water through tankers during 2011-12.
Availability of water has been a major issue. For a population of 1.7 crore, the DJB is able to garner 835 million gallons (MGD) of water per day from all sources against a demand of 1,025 MGD. It has a network length of 14,000 km pipelines. 310 km pipelines have been added and 200 km repaired in 2012-2013.
But despite this, a large chunk of population is left to fend for itself.
Despite mails, phones and verbal requests to the DJB spokesperson and the CEO since April 2, there was no response about specific cases that HT referred to (See case studies).
“It needs time to locate the faults. Sometimes, we even need to isolate a bunch of houses. Whenever needed, we change our pipelines but most of the time, the problem lies with the consumers’ ferrule, which they fail to replace,” DJB CEO Debashree Mukherjee said. She defended the water quality. “We lift 350-400 samples per day at various locations. There has been a 12% increase in our sample collection for quality testing over last year. We have internal checks and have a third party check done through National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).”
A recent Comptroller and Auditor General report punched holes into DJB’s claim about third party checks. CAG said: “Of the 19 cases pertaining to the period from July 2011 to September 2011 test checked, in five cases (26%), no remedial action was taken by the zonal offices on rechecking. As a result substandard potable water was used by the public.”