From Monday morning, Bhopal Municipal Corporation and PHE began testing the Narmada water distribution system at its full strength to see whether the distribution network has any flaws. Initially for the 48 hours beginning 11am, BMC would test the distribution of 135 MLD from Narmada river to Bhopal, following which it would test the trial distribution of 80 MLD.
According to BMC engineers, various arrangements for this mega testing process have been completed. They maintained that the water intake from Kolar Dam and Upper Lake has been reduced to ensure that the Narmada water is not wasted during testing. They informed that after few days they will go for testing at full strength of 185 MLD.
BMC presently supplies only a small fraction of the total 185 MLD that Narmada pipeline can supply to Bhopal at its full strength. In simple terms, at its full capacity, 123 lakh buckets of Narmada water can reach Bhopal on a daily basis (1 bucket = 15 litres on average, 1 gallon = 4.54 litres). For last one year or so, BMC has been supplying 10 to 20 million gallons per day (MGD) of Narmada water.
In 2003, Naramda Water for the 18 lakh plus population of the city, BMC secures 496 Million Litres/Day water through different sources including Narmada, but the storage capacity at present is nearly 162.6 million litres. Presently the piped network covers only around 50 to 60% of area and over 60% of the population. BMC is using the existing piped network to distribute Narmada water, but it will take over 3 to 4 years to lay the 2,300 km network of pipes to distribute the Narmada water across the city, especially in the peripheral areas that are still dependant on ground water and water tankers. Supply Project was accorded cabinet sanction, which was completed after many delays in 2011. After waiting for years, finally when Narmada water reached Bhopal, residents were promised that they would get enough water on a daily basis. But BMC has made many u-turns regarding its promise, stressing that it won’t be feasible given the present distribution network to supply water on a daily basis in the long run.