It may be just the start of the summer, but water worries have already begun plaguing Indore residents with the passage of each scorching day. If officials of the city’s municipal body are to be believed, complaints regarding the non-availability of water in various parts of the city have become increasingly frequent now.
While the Indore Municipal Corporation is able to supply Narmada water through piped connections to some places on alternate days, other areas are reeling under extreme water shortage. And as all the borewells in the city dry up rapidly, its residents are left with no option but to buy water from private suppliers.
“This season, the groundwater level of the city has gone down by an average of 100 feet,” said Abhay Rathore, an Indore Municipal Corporation official. “There is no law to prevent the exploitation of ground water, and that’s a major cause for worry.”
The Narmada River – the only perennial source of water for Indore – continues to supply about 360 million litres per day (MLD) of water from the Narmada phase I, II & III projects, but only around 250 MLD eventually reaches households due to distribution losses.
“Water requirement generally shoots up by 1.5 times in the summers,” said an executive engineer of the Narmada project.
Indore, which has a population of 2.6 million, needs 300 MLD of water solely for personal use. An additional 100 MLD is needed for commercial and industrial purposes.
Given the critical state the city’s water bodies are in, the corporation has stopped extracting from Bilawali Lake – which used to earlier supply 3 MLD of water. “The water level of the lake has sunk to such a point that any more exploitation will leave it completely shrivelled,” he said.
Water tankers to the rescue
With the reduction in water supply from the Narmada and the sinking of the city’s groundwater table, the residents of Indore have no choice but to depend on water tankers. “The corporation is plying 52 of its water tankers, and has hired an additional 110 water tankers from private suppliers to provide for the needs of 85 municipal wards in the city,” Rathore told Hindustan Times.
In addition to this, at least 1,000 private tankers are doing the rounds of the city – supplying water at prices ranging from Rs 400 to Rs 700. And the rates are bound to increase with each passing day.
However, the more marginalised in the society – who do not have the luxury of buying water every day – are left with no option but to stand in long queues with buckets, drums, bottles and every vessel they can gather to collect all the water they can from the increasingly occasional government tanker.