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Satellite data reveals changing landscape of Delhi

New Delhi, India: Remote Sensing data has revealed that Delhi”s landscape has undergone tremendous transformation, and all its shallow water bodies have almost disappeared. A recent research study by the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences at IIT Delhi with the help of satellite imagery from Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has found that built-up area of Delhi witnessed an overall increment of 17 percent and a whopping 52.9 percent reduction in area under water bodies over a period of ten years (1997 to 2008). The imagery indicated that the city is expanding towards its peripheral region with conversion of rural areas in to urban expansions. But the area under forest cover had increased only by a negligible 0.5 percent.

“We were very shocked to see that there were hardly any shallow or small water bodies left by 2008. In 1997 however many water bodies dotted various parts of Delhi. It”s a dangerous trend,” said lead author of the study, Professor Manju Mohan of the Atmospheric Sciences department at IIT.

The study was published in Journal of Environmental Protection late last year and now has been submitted to the government departments dealing with land-use. The total built-up area has been found to be expanding to the West, North, North-West, South-West and South of the city. But Central and East Delhi remained mostly unchanged. This could be because they had already witnessed urbanization.

The total area under water bodies was 58.26 sq km in 1997 that was reduced to 27.43 sqkm in 2008. Shallow water bodies seemed to have dismal presence in 2008. They have reduced by almost 78% in the 10 years of the study period. The only silver lining is a bit of increase in forest cover. However, Mohan said that such a tiny increment can hardly make a difference.

The built up area in Delhi is expected to increase from 53 percent in 2008 to 66 percent in 2021 and 85 percent in 2031 to accommodate the increasing population. The study concludes that the approach to urban development be improved so that the areas under various land-use classes can be preserved and that “there is an immediate need to take action in reviving the water bodies in Delhi as ground water contributes to substantial quantity of supply in newly developed areas.”

Source: TOI