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24x7 water supply: A promise made, but can it be kept?

india Updated: Feb 05, 2009 15:02 IST
Sujit Mahamulkar

A day after the announcement in the civic budget, Brihan-mumbai Municipal Corpora-tion (BMC) officials are busy working out the permutations and combinations necessary to provide 24-hour water supply across Mumbai.

Experts, meanwhile, are still doubtful it can be done.

In his budget presented on Tuesday, Municipal Comm-issioner Jairaj Phatak promised 24x7 drinking water supply to the city.

Civic officials who are attempting to turn that dream into reality are listing various measures: Implementing rainwater harvesting, replacing age old water supply lines, arranging alternative ways of supply, building waste water treatment plants and completing the middle Vaitarna dam in neighbouring Thane district.

“If we could save maximum drinking water by taking all the possible measures, we are confident of round the clock water supply by the end of 2012 itself,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner (water supply) Anil Diggikar.

Currently, the city’s demand for drinking water is 4,000 million litres daily (MLD) while the supply is 3,300 MLD.

According to civic estimates, per person’s requirement of water is about 150 litres per day. Of which, only 40 per cent potable water is needed. Rest is used for flushing, gardening, car washing and other purposes. “If other water resources are used for this, drinking water can be easily saved to a greater extent,” said Diggikar.

He said the rainwater harvesting would be implemented strictly in new buildings.

Civic body has planned to install water treatment plants in Worli, Versova and Colaba, where about 450 million litres of waste water will be treated and the same quantity of drinking water is estimated to be saved.

By 2011, additional 455 million litres water would be available from under construction Middle Vaitarna project.

Diggikar said the 24x7 water supply scheme will be first started in dense areas like Goregaon, Malad, Dahisar in western suburbs and Malabar Hill, Nana Chowk in south Mumbai. Slums would be last the get the benefit of uninterrupted supply.

Experts are not convinced.

Water conservation expert Madhav Chitale said, “It is difficult to implement. The BMC would need dedicated engineering staff that should not be shifted to other departments during routine transfers.” He also stressed the need for metering each and every water connection to make the users accountable.

Urban Planner V.K. Phatak said, “Feasibility would depend on the BMC’s preparations. Studies in other cities have pointed out that 24-hour water supply would reduce wastage of water, as it would be available anytime. Also, there would be less chances of water getting contaminated as the pipelines would always be full. Water gets contaminated if pipes are empty for some period.”

Citizen activists are not impressed either.

G.R. Vora, Member of F-north Ward Citizen’s Federation, said: “I believe these are false promises. Civic should control unauthorised constructions and illegal slums first.”