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Delhi is running out of water and it is everybody’s problem

In less than six months from now, 21 Indian cities, including Delhi, are feared to run out of groundwater. 60% of the water supplied by Delhi Jal Board comes from the Yamuna, around 34% from Ganga, and the rest is from groundwater. Having limited surface water resources (i.e., rivers, lakes, and canals) in its jurisdiction, Delhi is dependent on water-abundant neighbouring states for meeting nearly 50 percent of its raw water needs. Sometimes these states curtail their supply to Delhi, leading to a crisis situation in the capital.

The water stored in the ground can be compared to money kept in a bank account. If you withdraw money at a faster rate than you deposit new money, you will eventually start having account-supply problems.

Thousands of illegal borewells suck out water from underground aquifers for farming, industrial or even household usage. Moreover, there are private water tanker truck operators that illegally extract groundwater for supply in areas that are not covered by piped networks to increase their profits. Therefore, groundwater in the city is overexploited and has reached a critical state creating adverse effects.

In the last few decades, water bodies have been under continuous and unrelenting stress, caused primarily by rapid urbanization and unplanned growth.

At least 200 among more than a thousand water bodies in Delhi which includes lakes, ponds, moats, have been encroached and lost due to inaction and possible connivance of multiple agencies that owned the land that these water bodies existed on.

The heritage water bodies of Delhi are being lost to brazen illegal concretization, garbage dumping and sewage disposal, a Mail Today ground report has revealed.

Let’s take the example of Najafgarh Jheel, the second-largest water body in the area after the Yamuna river, and has been feeding Delhi NCR for decades. But it isn’t recognizable anymore as it resembles nothing more than a water-logged nala. The water of Najafgarh Jheel now comprises sewage from the drains of the surrounding urban sprawl, with the bulk of it being disgorged from the Badshahpur drain flowing through Gurugram. The pollutants from the jheel are leaching into the soil and contaminating the aquifers.

Many such water bodies in Delhi are existing in poor condition, filled with sewage and garbage dumped by residents and deliberately by land sharks, or developers who want to encroach the land.

It’s time to unite and come together, the future is not only influenced by the past but even the present. We aim to change this scenario and ask you to come together with us in our journey to build back better. Few of the ways to bring out the change

  1. Rooftop rainwater harvesting
  2. Community based recharge blocks
  3. Drip watering system for plants
  4. Rejuvenating wells
  5. Farm ponds


  1. www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/groundwater-decline-and-depletion?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
  2. http://niti.gov.in/writereaddata/files/document_publication/BestPractices-in-Water-Management.pdf
  3. http://mowr.gov.in/sites/default/files/BP_NGO_0.pdf

By Neha and Vaibhav. The article has been written as part of the Jal Se Jalshay, a community and youth-led campaign by Haiyya to address water crises in Delhi. Following the campaign on Twitter @JalSeJalashay.



Haiyya is a youth-led feminist movement building organization based out India. We equip social changemakers, organizations and citizen groups to learn, innovate and adapt to the needs of the changemaking landscape.

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Haiyya is a youth-led feminist movement building organization that works at the intersection of youth leadership, social justice and people power organizing