The sudden weather changes in the pre-monsoon months of May and June in Delhi-NCR caught everyone off-guard with strong winds and heavy rains uprooting trees, disrupting lives, and causing widespread infrastructure and property damage. Gurugram was severely affected by the thunderstorm exposing the lack of preparedness by the civic administration as underpasses submerged, roads waterlogged, and vehicle broke down. Torrential rains in several states of north India caused by the retreating monsoon in September and October gave some respite from the heat and humidity, but this came at the cost of flooded roads, traffic snarls and power outages.
The ‘Millennium City’ for some years now has been facing recurring floods during monsoons. The flash floods of 2016 and 2018 were nightmares when the entire city was brought to a standstill. This is taking place at a time when many areas of the city continue to reel under the stress of water shortage, thus resorting to excessive groundwater extraction, and hiring expensive water tankers.
According to a study conducted by Mahindra-TERI Centre of Excellence (MT-CoE) on water sustainability of Gurugram, it was found that the city’s population is expected to reach 4.3 million by 2025, pushing the water demand to 874.3KLD. Considering the existing urban growth trend in Gurugram, the built-up area is estimated to grow to 518.8 sqkm in 2025, almost thrice of what was in 2007. This can be attributed to its emergence as a major industrial hub, along with the development of residential townships and infrastructure for multinational companies.
Most of the built-up expansion is witnessed in the Gurugram tehsil, followed by Manesar. This is expected to make the water bodies shrink to an alarming 0.4 sqkm by 2025 from 55.2sqkm in 2007, and the vegetation to 38.2sqkm by 2025 from 209.6sqkm in 2007. Increased concretisation with destruction of natural topography can be attributed as one of the crucial reasons for recurring floods in the city.
The quantity of wastewater generated in Gurugram is estimated to increase to 699.4MLD by 2025. The study highlights the gaps in water infrastructure for year 2025 with existing installed capacity of sewage treatment plants of 388MLD proving insufficient to treat the wastewater, and posing a significant risk of polluting the natural waterways.
Based on the identified threats leading to water crisis, the study recommends practical measures for achieving water sustainability in the city. First, research should be conducted to collect appropriate water-related data for the city to fill the missing gaps, and accordingly required measures should be taken for data generation.
There is a need to ramp up water infrastructure such as water meters, pipelines, treatment plant capacities, to meet the demands of rising population. An immediate intervention for restoring the dying water bodies such as lakes, ponds, bundhs, etc. should be done. This can help in adding potential freshwater sources for the region.
The use of rooftop rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems in buildings for water reuse should be promoted. According to the Haryana Building Code 2017 (HBC), the RWH system must be installed by the plot owner having rooftop area of 100sqm or more. Another way of rainwater harvesting is localised tapping of rainwater by developing human-made water bodies to improve the groundwater recharge. The HBC mandates the recharging of groundwater for all building typologies, having a plot area more than 500 sqm.
Flood resilience measures should be implemented, such as making sure that the topographical conditions and the natural drainage of the area is being respected and preserved in all development projects. Smart surfaces such as porous pavements should be increased. Green, resilient infrastructure, and projects such as biodiversity parks should not only be preserved and protected, but also scaled-up.
Capacity-building and training of existing and new recruits of government staff, municipalities, and other urban local bodies working in water supply and its management in Gurugram should be done to strengthen work practices and, thereby, improving their overall performance.
An effective implementation of these suggested measures requires a robust stakeholder involvement from international, national/state, city, and building/site level. This is important as it ensures that the water management plans for the city takes into consideration the local requirements, interests, and experiences of all the stakeholders. It bridges the gap between experts, implementers, and policymakers.
Also, to make a sustainable change with respect to water management, it is essential that all the stakeholders co-operate and collaborate while carrying out their responsibilities towards achieving the goal of water sustainability.Tarishi Kaushik is Associate Fellow, Sustainable Buildings division, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). Views are personal, and do not represent the stand of this publication.