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NEW DELHI: A look at the list of water bodies in 10 zones uploaded recently by the Delhi government’s Parks and Gardens Society points to the deplorable state of baolis and lakes in the city. Most of them have been encroached upon, dried up or concretized. Those that still hold water have sewage flowing into them.

For this report, data from four zones was considered by TOI. Out of 54 water bodies in the east zone, 18 are dry and 21 have been encroached or built up on. In the south zone, 44 out of 120 water bodies have been encroached upon and eight have sewage entering them. Only the central district boasts a high number of water bodies that have been developed and have a permanent flow.

Many water bodies are also “legally built-up”, which means their land use has changed over time. For instance, the south zone has 12 such water bodies. The team that inspected these water bodies recommends rainwater harvesting at these sites. However, many have also been “illegally built-up”, and the matter is either pending in court or remains in dispute. Over seven water bodies in the east district have been concretized in this way.

Delhi Parks and Gardens Society gathered lists of water bodies under various agencies over two years before holding ground survey for a precise idea of their status. “It was a tough process as we had to gather data from all agencies. But now that we have an overall idea, we can formulate a plan. For instance, those that have run dry need greening around them to rejuvenate them,” S D Singh, chief executive officer, Delhi Parks and Gardens Society, said.

Strangely enough, several water bodies in all zones have simply run dry. “This is because of a low water table along with scanty and erratic rainfall. They will come alive once planting in the catchment area beings and they are freed of encroachments. We have also identified the water bodies needing sewage treatment and how many oxbow lakes have been formed,” Singh said.

There are about 1,000 baolis and lakes according to the records compiled from different agencies. The northwest zone with 166 water bodies leads the pack, followed by the north at 156 and the south zone which has 120 water bodies.

TOI had earlier reported that 21 lakes had disappeared from Delhi since 1997-98. Most of these lakes, according to Ritu Singh, scientist at Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, disappeared because of encroachment by real estate projects. According to the 1997-98 data, there were 44 lakes and 355 ponds in Delhi.



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