Pledge provides clean and free water for all and invests in a water secure future

Location: Delhi, India

Population: 16,787,941 (urban territory)

Climate: humid subtropical

Duration: 2013 – currently (source)

Sector: Water

Funding sources: Public

City networks: C40

Savings: Each month, 100K homes receive up to 20,000 litres of free water.

Solutions: A plan to provide short-term relief to households by distributing free lifeline water.

Multiple benefits: Social, health, economic and environmental co-benefits.

Objective – Delhi made a political commitment to ensure that all residents have access to safe drinking water at an affordable price and as a human right.

Solutions – Delhi made a political commitment to supply free clean drinking water to all inhabitants. It provides up to 20,000 litres of free water per month to households with metered connections and invests heavily in enhancing water security for Delhi residents in the future. Restoring and recharging groundwater are among the positives.

Declaring “Jal Swaraj” (Water Self Governance) comes as India struggles with water scarcity, forcing many citizens to buy water from private tankers run by the water mafia. Around 30% of Delhi’s population lives in unauthorized colonies with limited access to water and sanitation.

The city responds to this issue with an urgent plan to provide water and sewage to all Delhi residents, regardless of legal status. Citizens can get an 80% rebate for installing pipelines, helping to reach the objective of city-wide coverage in five years, which will link 1.4 million houses without piped water. A network of small but effective decentralized sewage treatment plants has been built to treat wastewater and prevent pollution of 281 water bodies. The city promotes water conservation, recycling, and rainwater harvesting to solve water security and replenish Delhi’s low water table. The Yamuna River will be cleaned up by preventing pollution, re-naturalizing it, and building dams to store floodwaters.

Funding – N/A

Innovation – 1) The Delhi government is extending infrastructure to connect illegal settlements to make water distribution systems more transparent, efficient, and accessible. The city is evicting the water mafia and creating happy neighbourhoods by providing equitable access to water. 2) Combating the intense heat. Inhabitants will be given free access to clean drinking water via hundreds of water dispensers throughout the city. Because better sanitation will improve inhabitants’ health, the city has constructed 100,000 bathrooms, most of which are in unofficial colonies.

Success factors – 1) Provide water to all, not just some: People from low-income households are disproportionately affected by water scarcity. Free lifeline water, an 80% drop in water and sewer connection fees, and a reduction in pipeline development fees reduce inequalities and progressively improve Delhi’s water security for all inhabitants. 2) Make the most of greywater: The city has established decentralized sewage facilities in residential colonies to prevent sewage contamination of water bodies and offer treated water for non-drinking applications like toilets and gardening. Dual water systems will be installed in group housing societies to maximize the use of recycled water.

Significant outcomes

  • Regulating private tankers protects consumers from inflated pricing. Changes in water tariff regulations will save small business owners money on water;
  • Delhi accounts for only 2% of the Yamuna’s catchment area but produces 80% of its pollution. A $54 million investment to capture and treat sewage has been implemented.

Synergies with local policies:

  • Draft Master Plan for Delhi for the next two decades, from 2021 to 2041, offers an integrated approach to water management. The Plan entails the combined water supply, sewerage (wastewater), and drainage sectors.

Political alignment:

  • National Water Mission (NWM) is committed to conserving water, minimizing waste, and ensuring equitable distribution. The ultimate objective of this Mission is to increase water efficiency by 20% (source);
  • The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) is a Government of India initiative launched in 2008 to mitigate and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. The Plan attempts to achieve India’s developmental objectives while lowering the economy’s emission intensity (source). The Plan outlines eight national climate change missions, including the National Water Mission;
  • India´s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution. India has set a target of 33% to 35% reduction in emissions intensity per unit of GDP by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. Additionally, it has set a target to increase water efficiency by 20% (source). 

Marketability: Yes

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Sector: Water

Country / Region: India

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In 1 user collection: Good practices of cities

Knowledge Object: User generated Initiative

Published by: Realdania