That only 25 of the 76 extinct water bodies of Faridabad can be revived — as is clear in Haryana’s response to the NGT — underscores the dismal state of affairs. At the same time, it should prompt the Haryana Government into redoubling its efforts to salvage what it can before all is lost. Indeed, the realty boom marked by rampant urbanisation and industrialisation, witnessed by this NCR town in the past few decades, has come at a huge cost of water resources. From an area blessed with abundant ponds, streams, lakes, drains and bundhs, it has, sadly, rapidly deteriorated to being marked by the Central Ground Water Board as a dark zone on account of groundwater depletion.
Sailing in the same boat of acute water infrastructure crisis is the other city bordering Delhi in the state: Gurugram. In the last 60 years, as the small town boomed into today’s Millennium City, impending doom was lurking behind the all-round greed of ‘development’. The alarming decline of 82 per cent in its groundwater table in the last decade and loss of 389 of the 640 water bodies in the last six decades has put Gurugram in the unenviable list of 20 cities that would be left with no groundwater by 2020, as per the Niti Aayog. With natural water bodies lost to mindless concretisation, a monsoon, instead of recharging the groundwater or storing rainwater, results in flooding. The residents are perennially fretting over water woes.
Clearly, there is no scope for further apathy or slip-ups. The key role that water bodies play in the supply of water for domestic needs and agriculture cannot be over-emphasised. And, giving hope that all is not lost are the conservation efforts afoot to restore the ecological glory of the region, such as recycling the waste and reviving the indigenous flora and fauna. The award-winning restoration of the Wazirabad bundh by desilting is a shining example of good practices involving civil society-government collaboration. Indeed, water management strategies can succeed only when all stakeholders pitch in. Only then will our pitchers remain filled with water.