The island city may have to allow some of its water supply to be diverted to the crowded suburbs.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to set up the Mumbai Water Review Standing Committee to work out equitable distribution of water between the island city and the suburbs.
The island city gets 1,140 million litres of water a day for a population of 32.74 lakh, according to a white paper on water submitted by the BMC to the standing committee last year.
The suburbs are teeming with new housing projects but are short on water supply. The eastern suburbs, home to 40.64 lakh people, make do with 890 million litres and the western suburbs get 1,320 million litres for 59.07 lakh residents.
The decision to set up the committee was taken following a demand by Bharatiya Janata Party corporator Ashish Shelar. “There should be equal water distribution across the city according to population density, green spaces and future development,” Shelar said on Friday.
Shiv Sena leader Sunil Prabhu supported the demand. The committee will be headed by standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale and will include corporators Yogesh Sagar (BJP), Niyaz Vanu (Nationalist Congress Party), Ravindra Waikar (Sena) and Shazia Azmi (Samajwadi Party), apart from Shelar and Prabhu.
“The civic body is not distributing water equally to all citizens and needs to improve the faulty system,” Sagar said.
Corporators from Ghatkopar alleged that citizens are not getting enough water even after the water cut was withdrawn. Ashwini Mate, a corporator from Ghatkopar, said: “People from Narayan Nagar and Asalpha are not getting enough water although there is no cut.”
The civic administration did not agree to the corporators’ suggestion that water be distributed according to the population. Vinay Deshpande, chief engineer from the BMC’s water department, said, “The new committee will definitely help improve the distribution system but water distribution on the basis of population will not fulfill everyone’s requirement.”
An officer from water department, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said: “Although the population of the island city is lesser than that of the suburbs more than 50 per cent of suburban population comes to the city to work. This floating population should be considered.”
Congress corporator Sameer Desai said the BMC should improve the water distribution system because low rainfall due to climate change could worsen situation in future. The monsoon in 2008 was 30 per cent below average.
Prabhu said he will campaign for the equal water distribution across the city.