NHRC takes serious view of disappearing water bodies in the national capital; issues notices to the Delhi Government and DDA

New Delhi, 3rd March, 2022

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report on disappearing water bodies in Delhi due to alleged unplanned growth and negligence by the authorities. Notices have been issued to the Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi and the Vice-Chairman, Delhi Development Authority, DDAcalling for a detailed report in the matter within six weeks.

The Commission has observed that the issue raised in the media report is a matter of concern. There are laws and guidelines to safeguard such vital components of environment. The alleged negligence by the authorities tantamount to violation of human rights, as the water bodies and wetlands are a vital part of the hydrological cycle, which supports rich biodiversity and provides a wide range of ecosystem services such as water storage, water purification, flood control, erosion control and microclimate regulation etc. It also helps mitigate urban floods.

The Commission has also noted that on 23rd April, 2019, Wetland Authority was constituted under the chairpersonship of the Chief Secretary in Delhi for conservation and management of wetlands.

According to the media report, carried today on 3rd March, 2022, these waterbodies, which play a major role in maintaining ecological balance in the region have either been encroached upon, concretised, or polluted with sewage. Delhi has reportedly 1,043 identified waterbodies belonging to different authorities and according to the reported official data, 169 of them have been either infringed on or destroyed. Giving example of a waterbody in Khichripur area, the media report says that though it has been included in the official record for years but it is yet to be reclaimed or rejuvenated.

It is also mentioned that out of these 169 encroached waterbodies, a total 103 belonged to the Delhi Development Authority. The DDA reportedly owns 836 waterbodies, which is the highest number in the city followed by the Revenue Department, which has a total 131 under its ambit. Further, quoting the Centre for Science and Environment, the media report said that according to a 1997 survey, there were 1,000 waterbodies in Delhi, but at present less than 700 remain.