With the passage of each scorching day, and forecasts of a delayed monsoon, water worries for residents of Indore are only growing.
As bore-wells in the city dry up and municipal supply of water dwindles, people are compelled to rely on private suppliers who charge exorbitant rates.
This season alone, on an average, ground water levels in the city have gone down 50-6o feet, according to an official of the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC). “It is a major cause of worry,” he said.
Narmada River, the only perennial source of water for Indore, continues to supply about 360 MLD (million litres per day) of water from Narmada phase I, II and III projects.
However, only around 290 MLD of it is supplied to households after about 20% is lost in distribution. Another 30 MLD of water is supplied to the city from Yashwant Sagar.
The available supply of water is grossly insufficient to meet the city’s demands.
“And in summers, water requirement generally shoots up by 1.5 times,” said Sanjeev Shrivastav, an executive engineer of Narmada water project.
The city, which has a population of around 22 lakh, at least needs 300 MLD of water for personal use and an additional 100 MLD is required for commercial and industrial uses.
Making matters worse, the corporation has had to stop drawing water from Bilawali Lake (which used to supply 3 MLD) for the past 15 days as the water level in the lake dropped to a drastically low level.
“At the beginning of this year, the water level in Bilawali tank was up to 20 feet 4 inch mark. In the month of February, the water level sunk down to 19 feet 9 inch mark, and at present, it further sank down by more than three feet and has touched 16 feet inch mark, before the corporation stopped exploiting it,” said one of the corporation’s staff stationed at the Bilawali reservoir.
With deficient supply of Narmada water and the fall in the ground water table, residents have no other option than to depend on water tankers from private suppliers.
Abhay Rathore, an IMC official, said, “About 135 water tankers of private suppliers and 52 tankers of IMC are plying all across the city; starting early in the morning to middle of the night.”
These tankers carry about 30 MLD of water from 30 water hydrants and other sources in the city, both legally and illegally.
“There is no law in the state restricting the exploitation of ground water,” Shrivastav noted.
Private suppliers charge from Rs 600 to Rs 2,000 per tanker, depending on capacity. But this trend is limited only to a few posh colonies and people living in apartments, who are able to afford it.
On the other hand, the marginalised have to wait in long queues with buckets or whatever they can use to collect water from municipal tankers that are short in supply.
Despite drawing about 310 MLD of water every day from Narmada River and Yashwant Sagar, the corporation is only able to supply water to the residents every other day, that too for just 20-40 minutes, depending on the area. This often results in shoving and pushing, or worse, fights for water.