New Delhi, June 5 — The increasing population of Delhi – from 13.9 million in 2001 to an estimated 17.44 million for 2009 and growing – has turned out to be the largest drain on resources, the ‘State of Environment Report for Delhi 2010′ said. As she released the report on Saturday, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit warned about the challenge to balance the needs of the ever-increasing population vis-a-vis natural resources. “Although Delhi is the greenest city in India, there is a greater challenge to balance the environment with the increasing needs of power and water for the large population,” Dikshit said. First, the good news from the report: The 2009 Forest Survey of India records Delhi’s forest area as 85 sq kms, which is 5.73 per cent of the geographical area of the state. There has been a net increase of around 16 sq kms in 2009 assessment over the 2005 status. But the report also said that Delhi ridge, which is the veritable green lung of the city, has seen shrinking in size due to mining and quarrying activities, especially in the south-central Ridge. At 1,615 units, Delhi has the highest per capita consumption of electricity among the states and union territories in the country. The demand of 4,500 MW of power is much more than the installed capacity of 1,000 MW in 2009. Apart from the production levels of 785 MGD in 2009, the average shortfall in water is about 200 MGD (million gallons per day) but the percentage of unaccounted for water is 35-40 per cent, reflecting problems in management of available resources. The report points out that the major sources of air pollution in the city include transport, power and industrial sectors and the population growth directly leads to stress on resources and infrastructure. As against 8 private cars per 1,000 persons across India, Delhi has 85 even as the city has seen an exponential growth in the number of vehicles from 30.5 lakh in 1998-99 to 63.0 lakh in 2008-09.
Speaking to reporters later, Dikshit supported Pachauri’s proposal and indirectly hinted at a hefty increase in power and water tariff so that it proves as a deterrent to the people and prevents wastage.