Population pressure behind disappearance of water bodies post 1947


New Delhi, Sep 18 : To make Delhi "City of Lakes", 250 reservoirs and 23 lakes are being revived. As per historians, these lakes and reservoirs, as well as deep pits in which water used to get collected, started to disappear after more people started to settle. There are claims that Delhi used to house nearly 1,000 water bodies, which have now reduced to just 400. According to historians, in 1947, Delhi's population was nine lakh, and after migrations and arrival of refugees following Partition, it increased to 14 lakh. Due to increasing population, lakes and ponds in the city started disappearing. Historian Suhel Hashmi told IANS: "Delhi sits on Aravallis and that is why it is rocky. Every village had one or two ponds and apart from that, large water bodies existed." "In Delhi, Anangpal had made a pond. Till some time, no one knew about it, but now a lake has been found which is named as Anangpal Lake. After that, Suraj Kund Lake made by his brother Suraj Pal is there." "Firoz Shah Tughlaq had made a lake near Khirki Mosque, where now the district courts stand. There was a lake here till 1920. After the country got Independence, the lakes were encroached and houses were built. It involved all people." Hashmi cited a 1994 report of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage which mentioned that if all the water bodies of Delhi are revived, then it will solve the water problem. "There was a large lake each in model town, Jahangirpuri, and Najafgarh. Of these, the lake in Swagat Model Town is being revived." According to Manu Bhatnagar of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, the number of refugees settling here increased during the 1950s due to presence of several facilities. Water bodies in Delhi are small, of which a few were lakes. At that time, importance of these water bodies was not considered as there was no shortage of water. The Delhi government is trying to make the national capital a 'City of Lakes'. To harness rainwater, reservoirs are being revived. Picnic spots, scenic spots, sports and exercise machine for the morning and evening walkers will also be arranged near the lakes. The lakes will also work as a sink for carbon storage and birds, and animals will get a home. Besides reducing the gap between demand and supply of water, it will also reduce temperature during peak summers, air quality will improve, and green cover will increase. The Delhi government is making all out efforts to fulfill the dream of making Delhi 'City of Lakes'. The aim of this project is to protect the city from urban floods and to construct reservoirs to avoid blocked drains. The Delhi government, using a sustainable model, is rejuvenating the lakes. Local flora are being planted around the lakes to rejuvenate the ecosystem. /IANS


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