Round-the-clock water supply to city residents by the Chandigarh municipal corporation (MC) appears like a distant dream if the ground reality is an indication.
Though 24X7 water supply is one the benchmarks for the Smart City concept in Chandigarh, the MC, which had proposed round-the-clock supply in 2009, had failed to initiate any action to date. Rather, the afternoon supply was discontinued in the city in December 2012.
A senior MC official admitted that it might take another eight years to restore 24X7 water supply effectively and economically in the city as water distribution system needed proper study. Moreover, there is no authenticated water mapping system in the city. It will require at least three years to study the water supply network system in the city which was laid in the 50s and 70s, the official added.
MC YET TO COLLECT Rs 15 CR WATER CHARGES
Another norm required for the Smart City tag is 100% billing and collection of water charges. However, the civic body has failed to collect around Rs 15 crore from defaulters in past one decade. The MC has never initiated steps to recover the amount. Besides, the collection of water bills has gone down by Rs 5 crore in past two years. In 2013, revenue generated from water charges was Rs 60 crore which dropped to Rs 55 crore last year and is expected dip further this year.
The MC will not be able to fulfil the condition of 24X7 water supply as officials admit that they are not aware of the water distribution system in the city. For example in case of repairs, the MC has to shut down the pump house putting residents of other sectors to inconvenience. Besides, the six overhead water tanks in the city having a storage capacity of 1 lakh gallons each are non-functional for the past 30 years.
NO ACTION ON 2013 PLAN
In October 2013, the MC’s public health department prepared a plan to tackle water shortage in the city and even a committee was constituted to give suggestions. However, nothing has been done to improve water supply to date. The committee report revealed that there was unequal distribution of water in the northern and southern sectors of the city. Residents of the northern sectors, including Sectors 2,3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9, were drawing 1,000 litres per capita per day (LPCD), whereas those living in Sectors 33, 34, 35, 36, and 49 were drawing only 400 LPCD.
The average domestic consumption per day by city residents is 250 litres as compared with 150 litres at the national level. Officials also admit that the average domestic per capita consumption during winter and summer seasons is more or less the same in the city.
MC chief engineer Mukesh Anand told HT: “I am not aware of the water supply plan of 2013. However, round-the-clock water supply in the city will take time as officials are not aware of the internal water distribution system.”
Chairman of the water supply and sewerage disposal committee Major DS Sandhu (retd) said: “On July 14, MC officials suggested measures to maintain water pressure and ensure 24X7 water supply to residents, but what have they done in the past one decade? The suggestions they have given now will take another 10 years to take shape. Moreover, they are not even aware of the internal water distribution system. They never bothered to strengthen the grid system and have also favoured installation of tubewells in the low-pressure areas of the city.”
He said the MC was now waiting for 20 million gallon per day (MGD) water supply from Kajauli water works under Phase 5 and 6 which will take another three years. The officials are not taking any steps to improve the existing water distribution system, he added.