Though the civic body has finally kick-started the upgradation of city’s sewage system, it continues to dither over the use of treated sewage for non-potable purposes.
In 2009, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had publicly mooted the use of treated sewage water for non-potable purposes by large-scale consumers such as industries and hotels. But, the civic body now seems to be re-thinking as the project is not financially feasible.
Rajiv Jalota, additional municipal commissioner, said: “We have de-linked the treatment of sewage water and the use of water for non-potable purposes. The BMC will invest only in the treatment of water and will leave the use to the interested parties.”
Accordingly, the civic body will float tenders for the eight sewage treatment plants with no mention of the use of treated water. “Once the project is completed, we will issue tenders for private parties on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis for plants that would treat 5 million litres daily (MLD) of water to make it fit for non-potable use. It will be the firm’s responsibility to treat and supply the water and find consumers for it. The BMC will not invest in it,” added Jalota.
Moreover, according to a civic officer, the land crunch will make it difficult to find space to lay additional pipelines to supply the treated water. Hence, the water will have to be supplied through tankers or other such sources, the officer added.
The civic body took the decision as it realised that the treated water would prove to be very expensive. A source in the Mumbai sewage disposal project (MSDP) department said, “If we were to make this water fit for non-potable use, it would cost Rs45-50 for every 1,000 litres of water. It is highly improbable to find consumers who will buy water at this rate, when civic supply even to industries is at a lesser rate.”
Seconded Jalota, “There is uncertainty about whether such water will be bought. So, we will encourage private firms to invest so that the civic body doesn’t spend on it.”