Effectively overturning the ban on use of groundwater extraction pumps in Chandigarh, the municipal corporation is set to allow residents of southern sectors to install handpumps and submersible pumps in their houses free of cost. The issue is to come up in the MC House meeting scheduled on December 19.
The agenda states that water from these pumps can be used for gardening, car washing and washing of clothes, but is not fit for drinking. It covers Sectors 31-34 and 44-51.
The move comes as Chandigarh will soon be short of another 9 million gallon daily (MGD), after supplying their respective shares to Haryana and the military engineering services from the supply from the Kajauli waterworks. At present, the city gets 87 MGD -- 67 from Kajauli and 20 from government tubewells - against a demand of 116 MGD. The shortfall of 29 MGD would go up to 38 at the end of 2013.
"We are allowing groundwater pumps to cope with the impending water crisis. People can install handpumps and submersibles on them to fill overhead tanks, washing clothes, gardening. This water, however, is not potable," confirmed BK Dhawan, executive engineer, MC's public health department. Residents won't have to pay any money for it, Dhawan added. As per the water supply norms, though, monthly charges for a 70mm bore are Rs 9,000, but the MC does not seem to mind the losses by allowing free use.
Nominated councillor Surinder Bahga questioned the "double standards": "When the MC had banned handpumps and also decided to install 45 more tubewells across the city to cope up with the shortage, I think there is no need of allowing groundwater use in houses, as it will cause a loss of revenue. Also, Rs 15 crore have been spent on supply of tertiary treated water for non-drinking purposes, which would thus become pointless."
But Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) councillor Malkiat Singh said, "If the MC is allowing (use of groundwater), why limit it to southern sectors? We will ask the authorities to cover other sectors too."
Don't drink it!
Seven years ago, the Chandigarh MC had banned handpumps'/submersibles' use by residents in the city as samples turned out to be highly contaminated and unfit for human consumption.