The drinking water woes in the City of Lakes, though apparently paradox, tops the concerns of the voters in the state capital. Water woes like insufficient supply, weak pressure, erratic supply, no water for days because of Kolar pipeline leakage, seepage in old pipes and so on continue to beset the residents.
When the Hindustan Times talked to the residents in various parts of the city, the general response was that they were getting less water and that too for a shorter time, which was insufficient in summer months, when water needs increase.
While half of the city, especially the central areas get daily supply, the rest of peripheral areas get water on alternate days. In un-piped areas in the periphery, the residents count on ground water sources and water tankers.
However, Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials, who spoke to the Hindustan Times on the condition of anonymity, said the real problem was not shortage of water but its efficient distribution. The city has three main water sources: Narmada, Upper Lake and Kolar reservoir.
In fact, the lack of enough distribution networks, huge water wastage due to large number of leakages in the worn-out piped network and the absence of a proper awareness drive for water conservation have caused city's water woes.
Though BMC claims that water wastage is around 20%, off the record the civic body's engineers maintain that the water wastage because of leakages could be as high as 30 to 40% as they don't have exact figures regarding underground leakages.
While the Narmada water has reached the state capital, the distribution network of 2200 km is yet to be completed. Nearly, 400 km piped network is yet to be laid under this project. With JNNURM funding having stopped, the BMC is now in a fix on how to get funds for laying the remaining 400-km network.
Sources said at present nearly 50-60% of the city's population has access to piped water supply. The existing pipe network of around 1,200km is being complimented by laying 2200 km of piped network under the Narmada water supply project.
The BMC claims it has laid around 1800 km of 2200-km pipeline. What BMC commissioner Tejaswi Naik has to say? Many of the water supply issues will be resolved once we complete the laying of the 2200-km pipeline in Bhopal, which will help us distribute the Narmada water to a larger section of the population.
But with JNNURM funding having stopped, we are now exploring options how to get funds for completing the last 400-km pipeline. We are also trying to improve the water economy by realising more water cess and increasing tap connections under the Narmada supply.