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Water cuts deepens as lakes run dry

India's financial and entertainment capital is facing a 30 per cent cut in water supplies, despite an overnight deluge of monsoon rains on Wednesday that left some streets and homes flooded.

india Updated: Jul 08, 2009 13:18 IST

India's financial and entertainment capital is facing a 30 per cent cut in water supplies, despite an overnight deluge of monsoon rains on Wednesday that left some streets and homes flooded.

The civic authorities in Mumbai introduced the reduction on Tuesday as levels ran "precariously low" at the six lakes that supply the city's 18 million population with 3.3 billion litres (872 million US gallons) of water a day.

Like many Indian cities, Mumbai depends on the annual monsoon to replenish water stocks. The rains had been due to arrive on June 8 but only hit the city at the end of last month.

Since then, they have been intermittent. Heavy rainfall overnight Tuesday-Wednesday left many lower-lying areas under water and forced pedestrians to wade shin-deep through muddy water.

Colaba, in south Mumbai, received 73.7 millimetres (2.9 inches) of rain in the 24 hours to 8:30 am (0300 GMT), according to the Indian Meteorological Department.

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) official Anil Diggikar was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency: "We are facing a shortage of 250 million litres of water per day."

He said the one lake with higher levels can only supply the eastern suburbs, hitting the more prosperous southern and western parts of the metropolis.

Deputy municipal commissioner Pramod Charankar told a leading English daily that there was currently enough water only for the next 20 days in those areas unless the monsoon picked up.

Owners of swimming pools, clubs and whirlpool baths have been told to reduce consumption, while supply to 32 construction sites has been cut, the daily said. Five-star hotels can expect reductions, it added.

"We hope to save about 200 million litres a day from the drive," Charankar added.

The BMC initially introduced a 10 per cent water cut on June 8 then increased that to 20 per cent on June 20.

Meanwhile, officials said only 10 per cent of water stocks for irrigation projects were left in Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, while well below average rainfall had hit agriculture in other parts of the country.

"Paddy, which is the dominant... crop in (the northern states of) Punjab and Haryana will take a hit," professor Ramesh Chand, from the Indian Council for Agriculture, was quoted as saying by a leading English daily.

Other crops, including pulses, maize cotton and sugarcane will have lower yields, as analysts raised the spectre of drought conditions in northern India, he added.