Debating India

Delhi Belly: City threatens to burst

Sunday 11 July 2004, by MAJUMDAR*Pallavi

NEW DELHI: It’s World Population Day today. But Delhi has little to celebrate. As immigrants pour in and residents jostle for roti, kapda and makan, the city is straining at the seams.

Delhi’s population grew by 46.31 per cent between 1991 and 2001, crossing the 1.4 crore mark, and is expected to double by 2021. That prospect has experts warning of a catastrophic collapse of infrastructure. The city needs to be decongested, they warn. But so far, the idea has failed to take off, because people keep flocking to the capital.

With good reason. "Delhi has high per capita income, a low tax regime and subsidised services," says National Capital Region Planning Board member secretary B K Sundar Ray. It also has several flourishing wholesale markets, all of which act as a magnet for truck traffic and population. But urban services are breaking down. Here’s how:

Water: Safe drinking water is a dream for more than half the city’s residents. Confronted with ever-increasing demand, the DJB is unable to provide piped water supply to even half of the city. In fact, the city faces a shortage of 200 millions gallons a day.

Power: Producing only 17 per cent of its energy requirements, the city is forced to depend on the northern grid and neighbouring states like Himachal Pradesh for additional power. There is a 6 per cent increase in demand every year. Power cuts are common. So is the sight of residents taking to the streets to protest.

Pallavi Majumdar

See online : The Times of India


in The Times of India, Sunday, July 11, 2004.

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