Youth icon and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader, Raghav Chadha, believes that although water is a challenging sector for the national capital -- given the high water consumption rate of Delhiites compared to the national average -- green initiatives like rain water harvesting, restoration of lakes, and cleaning of Yamuna along with water audit protocols and checking theft, can ensure a healthy, clean supply of water to the residents.Chadha, who was appointed the Vice Chairman of Delhi Jal Board (DJB) this year, told IANSlife that water consumption per person in Delhi is one of the highest in the world. At 250 LPCD per person, it stands significantly higher than the national average of 135 LPCD, owing to the metropolis being in a tropical region with peak summer demand for water.With the right kind of policy and technical intervention the consumption can be reduced to the national average of 135 LPCD, shared the politician. "We have sufficient water, it's all about management is what I have experienced and learnt. I am bullish on initiatives like water audit; flow meter installation in the entire network to check leakage and theft; and rationalisation of water distribution," he shared over the phone."Water is a very challenging sector especially in the capital, firstly, because Delhi does not have its own river and we have to share water from all our neighbouring states and secondly, because of the increasing demand leading to increased consumption. Even after all these hurdles, Delhi Jal Board fulfills its responsibility of proper management of water supply in the entire Delhi with the available limited resources. Under the able guidance of CM Kejriwal, we (DJB) have been able to lay water lines in almost 93 per cent of the capital and soon it will be 100 percent," said Chadha.
Has the water consumption patterns of capital residents changed during the lockdown months? Noting the increased habit of hand-washing, Chadha says that Delhi's high consumption and summer demand coupled with hygiene practices accelerated the demand, but DJB was able to manage the heightened demand for water, thanks to industrial units and leisure spaces being shut due to COVID-19."I firmly believe Yamuna can be cleaned and we can restore the dignity of Yamuna. The floodplains of Yamuna should be looked at from a biodiversity and ecological standpoint, and not as wasteland. It is a natural resource which hasn't received its due.Sharing that the Interceptor Sewage Project for cleaning of river Yamuna is progressing at a rapid pace and it should be on the way to completion soon," Chadha said that it will reduce 242 MGD of untreated waste water going into the river. As for greater adoption of rainwater harvesting (RWH), Chadha plans a "carrot and stick policy", with financial incentive to those installing RWH to the tune of Rs 50,000 or a percentage, whichever is lower, and penalising those who don't. He shared that Delhi Jal Board is installing RWH in all Delhi Government buildings."DJB has been rigorously advocating the implementation of RWH in the residential premises and also the promising project of revival or rejuvenation of water bodies across Delhi so that the groundwater table can be recharged. Again it's very important to give back to nature in return for the precious resource that we use: water. RWH systems have been implemented in private buildings, government. schools, buildings maintained by DJB in full swing," Chadha shared.
On the environment side, Chadha recalls his experience of studying in the UK. "Recycled water is an asset, should not be thrown away. We have a psychological barrier in using recycled water. When I was a student in London, I used to hear the tale that every glass of London tap water may have passed through seven sets of kidneys before it quenches the next thirst."Passion for water conservation is not new for Chadha. Even in his formative years, eco-friendly habits were part of daily life. In junior school, while others around him were more interested in getting the captain or prefect badge, Chadha proudly wore an ï¿½environmentalist' badge, as he shares. "Those basic values system was inculcated in me and as a result of which I think I have been more concerned about the environment as a child, as a student overseas and now somebody who is an elected representative."While most tried to make the most of their time in lockdown, Chadha, too, turned cyclist and a badminton player in his spare hours.Stressing on green mobility, he shared that "this lockdown has sort of reinvigorated the whole concept of choosing bicycle and electric vehicles. Now, every morning you see so many people cycling to Rashtrapati Bhavan etc. People are cognisant that the environment is something we need to care about."Circling back to talking about water, he concludes: "All I can say is that all the residents should use the available water judiciously and smartly, also remember the motto: conserve water, conserve life. One thing I have learned is that it's not a single person's job, we all as a society (service provider and service taker) have to walk together to bring change and move towards betterment of all."