About Delhi  
Technology Urban
Water Requirement and Sources of Water in Delhi

elhi is experiencing increasing pressure to meet demand for its water resources. Growing urbanization, improvements in living standards, exploding population are just some of the contributing factors. The population of Delhi is expected to cross 15 million by the end of 2002. The city, at the moment, requires 3,324 million liters of water a day (MLD) while what it gets stands closer to 2,034 MLD. Average water consumption in Delhi is estimated at being 240 liters per capita per day (lpcd), the highest in the country. The large-scale extraction of groundwater is a result of this widening gap between the demand and supply of water. And still worse, serious doubts are also being raised about both the quality and quantity of groundwater.


The Union Territory of Delhi consists of flat and level plains interrupted by cluster of sand dunes and a long continuous chain of rocky ridges. The sand dunes are of varying dimensions and in general trend northeast - southwest. The crests of the dunes generally lie between 6 and 15 metres above the surrounding plains. They are more or less fixed in this area and support vegetation. It appears that they are of longitudinal type and are oriented parallel to the prevailing wind directions.


The Yamuna river flowing in a southerly direction in the eastern part of the Union Territory of Delhi is the only perennial river in the area. Eastern and western Yamuna canals and Agra canal are the three major canals which originate from the Jamuna river with Bawana, Rajpur and Lampur distributaries. Auchandi, Budhanpur, Sultanpur Mundka, Mongolpur, Nahari, Dhansa and Surkhpur are some of important minors. The Agra canal originates from Okhla, about 12 km. South of Delhi.

Delhi receives its water from 3 sources:

A. Surface Water:86% of Delhi's total water supply comes from surface water, namely the Yamuna River, which equals 4.6% of this resource through interstate agreements.

B. Sub-surface water: Ranney wells and tubewells. This source, which is met through rainfall (approx. 611.8 mm in 27 rainy days), and unutilized rainwater runoff, is 193 MCM (million cubic meters).

C. Graduated Resources: It is estimated at 292 MCM, however current withdrawal equals 312 MCM. Salinity and over exploitation has contributed to depletion and drastically effected the availability of water in different parts of the city. However, according to a report released by the Central Ground Water Board (GCWB), Delhi's ground-water level has gone down by about eight meters in the last 20 years at the rate of about a foot a year.

Apart from groundwater, Delhi gets its water from the Ganga Canal, the western Yamuna canal, the Bhakra canal and the Yamuna.  

Delhi’s water and wastewater management is controlled by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), which has signed the contract with Suez Degremont. With the demand-supply gap projections for water set to increase in the next ten years, DJB have identified new raw water sources including Tehri, Renukal, Kishau Lahawar dams. Plans also center on the construction of new and existing sewage treatment plants (STPs), which will enable an increase in treatment capacity. Rainwater harvesting is another option that DJB is considering.

Even though Delhi is one of the first Indian cities to have paid attention to city planning with the first master development plan of 1962, the infrastructure for public utilities is proving to be inadequate, especially under the burden of growing population.

Delhi has total area of 1486 sq kms out of which fully developed urban areas is 525 sq kms. With over 14 million inhabitants, the city is bursting at its seams. Population of Delhi is expected to reach 17.5 million by the end of the 10th Five year plan. Situated on the banks of the river Yamuna, the city is mainly supplied by surface water from the Yamuna, Ravi beas water ( Bhakra storage) and the Ganga water. The water availability from surface water sources, viz. Yamuna, Ganga and Bhakra systems is approximately 1150 MCM ( million cubic metre), and of  this 60 % is available from Yamuna river.Total groundwater availability is of the order of 290 MCM per year. Delhi receives a total average rainfall of around 600 mm per year, of which 80 % is received in three months ( July – September).

Water Source

With the present population, the current potable water requirement is Delhi is 828 Million Gallons per day ( MGD) ; expected to rise to 1050 MGD by end of the 10th Five year plan. The Delhi Jal Board is presently supplying about 660 MGD of potable water from its existing installations (which includes 81 MG ground water).
Water resources of Delhi Jal Board
Source Quanitity(MGD)
Yamuna 210
Ganga 100
Sub total(surface water)
Ranney wells/ Tube wells 81
Total 631

Source: Economic survey of Delhi, 2001-02.

The source available is not sufficient to meet the demand and as such there is a shortfall of 168 MGD per day of water.

As per the “Economic Agenda for Delhi – a proposed Blueprint”, prepared by the Confederation of Indian Industry in association with the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, using the DJB norms on water supply, there will be a huge supply gap by the year 2011. The demand is expected to be 1600 million gallons a day (MGD) versus a proposed treatment capacity of 990 MGD. Owing to this situation of escalating population without a commensurate increase in the availability of raw water, the ground water in Delhi has been over exploited. This has disturbed the hydrological balance leading to decline in the productivity of wells, increasing pumping costs and more energy requirement.

The groundwater table is Delhi has depleted to 20 –30 metres in various areas across the city. Compared to a level of 30 – 40 feet at the time of Independence, the water table has dropped to 350 feet at certain places. It is said to be falling at 10 feet per year on an average. Groundwater levels have depleted by 2 – 6m in Alipur and Kanjhwla blocks, 10m ins the Najafgarh block, and about 20 m in Mehrauli block.

The quality of underground water is also deteriorating and in several places it has been found to tbe unfit for human consumption.

Almost 46 % of the population still does not have access to piped carriage systems. In addition there is the issue of unequal supply – 29 liters per capita per day ( lpcd) of water supply in some areas, compared to 509 lpcd in cantonment area.

The problems are compounded by an inadequate sewer system and blocked drains.

But there is a disparity in the cost of production and operations of water supply and water tariffs being charged. Currently only 35 % of the cost of proper operation, maintenance and upkeep of the water supply and sewerage system are collected through water tariffs.  

The revenue collected is hardly able to meet the cost of electricity bill and other requirement of chemicals like chlorine etc. The cost recovery is only 60 % of the production cost of water . Rest 40 % is Non- Revenue water.

A recent report reveals that people in Mehrauli and Narela receive only 29 and 31 liters per person per day respectively, those in the Cantonment Board get 509 liters and Lutyen's Delhi 462 liters, The Karol Bagh zone receives 337 liters per person per day. It is also estimated that unless the depleted water table in Mehrauli is maintained or replenished, Mehrauli will experience desertification within the next ten years.

  • About Delhi

  Back to Top    
Center for Science & Environment CSE Store Equity Watch Gobar Times Down to Earth
Now buy viagra online from different online pharmacies and sort out all sexual performance related issues. You can get comprehensive and up to date source of drug information online. Not only Viagra, but you can buy cialis online also at some discounted price. From the site casino online also you can buy these.