Out of over 1,000 water bodies reported to be in New Delhi in 2017 nearly 80% just exist on paper

In March 2019, the National Green Tribunal pulled up the Uttar Pradesh government for failing to take remedial measures for tackling industrial and any other pollution in the state’s Hindon, Kali and Krishna rivers.

Millions of people living along the banks of the Hindon and its tributaries are consuming groundwater that has been contaminated by hazardous toxins. They are well aware of the dangers but cannot afford to install water purifying systems.

As of 2017, over 1,000 water bodies were reported to be in New Delhi “but due to encroachment and urbanisation, nearly 80% just exist on paper”. 629 water bodies were said to be under the jurisdiction of Revenue department/Irrigation and flood control department, 315 under Delhi Development Authority, 25 under MCD, 18 under Forest Department, 15 under Archaelogical Survey of India, 4 under Delhi Jal Board.

Some suggest that control over these water bodies should be given back to communities from the State.

As of 2014, water table in New Delhi was reported to be 30 metres below ground.

Some 600 km south of New Delhi, Sanjay Singh, the founder of Parmarth, an organisation working on rainwater harvesting projects in nearly 500 villages across Bundelkhand, says, “Most rivers, wells and ponds have dried up due to poor water management. Groundwater has depleted over the years due to a lack of effort by the administration to take up water recharging. Political parties deliberately shift the focus from real issues so that people never hold them accountable.”

Water scarcity is the root cause of the many woes plaguing the region, such as poverty, farming crisis, debt and unemployment, say the villagers. Meanwhile, a Bill to protect groundwater is pending for approval in Uttar Pradesh.