New Delhi: With climate change posing a threat to water security in cities such as Delhi, the city government’s Environment Minister Gopal Rai has said extreme weather is not a challenge for the national capital alone and collaboration among states is a must to effectively tackle such situations. In his first interview following last month’s unprecedented floods in Delhi, Minister Rai noted that developing nations, including India, are grappling with the consequences of actions of developed countries.
He emphasised that making environmental protection, climate change and air pollution integral to national politics can pave the way for ecologically-friendly development across the nation. He said,
Climate change doesn’t only affect Delhi, it’s a challenge for the whole world. Developed nations have contributed the most to climate change because they exploited natural resources without proper checks and balances. Many countries followed the path of developed nations and excessively consumed natural resources. Now, they are all experiencing the consequences. This is a crucial issue that concerns humanity as a whole. We need a global perspective to address it.
Increase in variability of monsoon rainfall due to climate change is expected to aggravate water shortages and impact hydropower generation in parts of the country, research shows.
Asked if it is a cause for concern for Delhi, which relies on neighbouring states for both water and hydroelectricity, Minister Rai said,
These challenges require collaboration and dialogue among the states. In Delhi, we are implementing innovative technologies to recycle water and enhance groundwater levels. However, such measures cannot fully meet the water demand of the entire city.
According to official estimates, around two crore residents of the national capital need approximately 1,300 million gallons per day (MGD) of water for consumption and daily needs. But the Delhi Jal Board can supply only around 1,000 MGD, leaving many areas grappling with a water shortage.
Delhi gets 675 MGD of water from Hayana through two canals and the Yamuna and 253 MGD from Uttar Pradesh through the Upper Ganga Canal. The rest is drawn from ranney wells and tubewells installed across the city.
Minister Rai said Delhi, being the national capital, is at the forefront of efforts to combat climate change and environmental degradation. he said,
The Arvind Kejriwal-led government in Delhi is the most proactive state government in India when it comes to tackling these challenges.
Combating environmental degradation and air pollution were among the 10 commitments made by AAP chief Kejriwal before the assembly elections, the minister said. He added,
If these concerns (environment, climate change and air pollution) become integral to national politics, it can pave the way for ecologically-friendly development across the nation.
The AAP promised to plant two crore saplings over five years, starting 2020, if it returned to power in Delhi. By the end of the fourth year in 2023, the government will have planted 1.7 crore saplings. Minister Rai said,
We are on track to exceed (planting) two crore saplings within the fifth year.
The minister stressed that concerted efforts of all agencies have led to a 30 per cent reduction in air pollution levels in Delhi since 2016.
Delhi recorded the highest rainfall (153 mm) in a single day in July since 1982 on July 8-9. The city received an additional 107 mm of rain in the subsequent 24 hours.
The heavy rain transformed roads into gushing streams, parks into watery labyrinths and marketplaces into submerged realms, prompting the government to issue a flood warning and shut schools temporarily.
Subsequently, heavy rain in the upper catchment areas of the Yamuna led to the river swelling to a record 208.66 metres in Delhi. It breached embankments and penetrated deeper into the city than it has in more than four decades.
More than 27,000 people were evacuated from their homes. The losses incurred in terms of property, businesses and earnings have run up to crores.
Delhi is projected to suffer losses of Rs 2.75 lakh crore by 2050 due to the impacts of climate change, with changes in precipitation and temperature patterns posing significant threats to the lives of the most vulnerable populations. The warning comes from the city government’s draft action plan on climate change.
The plan, which is pending approval, highlights “heat waves/higher temperature and heavy precipitation events over fewer number of days” as major challenges that the city will confront in the upcoming years.
It estimates the losses from the agriculture and allied sectors at Rs 0.08 lakh crore, manufacturing at Rs 0.33 lakh crore and services at Rs 2.34 lakh crore.
The projections show a rise in maximum temperatures in Delhi by 1.5 degrees Celsius based on the RCP 4.5 scenario, and a 2.1-degree Celsius increase based on the RCP 8.5 scenario by mid-century.
Four Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) span a range of future global warming scenarios. RCPs quantify future greenhouse gas concentrations and the radiative forcing — the difference between the incoming and outgoing radiation at the top of the atmosphere — due to increases in climate change pollution.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.