Dry run | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Dry run

Bharat Kamble (34) is slowly getting used to a shift in his morning routine. For the last three months, he’s been rising at 7.30 am, 30 minutes earlier than he used to, and queuing up at his building’s common tap to fill water.

mumbai Updated: Dec 02, 2009 00:32 IST
Bhavika Jain

Bharat Kamble (34) is slowly getting used to a shift in his morning routine. For the last three months, he’s been rising at 7.30 am, 30 minutes earlier than he used to, and queuing up at his building’s common tap to fill water.

As he awaits his turn at BDD Chawl at Dadar, a dozen of his neighbours line up behind him. This tap is shared by 20 families, all of whom must fill enough water — in the 30 minutes that the supply lasts — to last through the day.

That just got more difficult with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation enforcing a 15 per cent water cut for residential buildings and a 30 per cent cut for commercial users.

One eye on the clock, Bharat races through his chores, somehow making it to Dadar station to catch the 9.22 am train to Churchgate.

Meanwhile, his wife Yogita (29) shuttles between filling drinking water from the bathroom, dressing up her nine-year-old son Tanish for school and packing his lunch box.

“Getting to work on time has become very difficult,” said Bharat, a compounder. Because he has to fill water while Yogita sees Tanish off to school, Bharat has been reporting late to work for the last three months.

The Kambles are representative of families across Mumbai whose mornings now revolve around lugging home pots of precious water that may be in very short supply the next day.

“Even in the 30 minutes that we get water, the pressure is so low that each family manages to fill only two buckets,” said Yogita, a bank employee.

The water cuts have been forced on Mumbai by a poor monsoon and lack of planning to ensure supply keeps pace with the burgeoning population and covers crises like the present one.

The cuts mean that Mumbai gets nearly 400 million litres less than the 3,450 million litres a day (MLD) it used to before the monsoon. Even that wasn’t enough — the demand was for 4,300 MLD. To top it all, over 700 MLD — the equivalent of a
day’s supply for cities like Pune and Nashik — are lost to theft and leaks.

Some localities suffer more than others. Malabar Hill, Cuffe Parade, Bandra bear the brunt as they lie at the end of their respective supply lines.

Mumbai gets water from six lakes, where the water stock is 8.37 lakh million litres. At the same time last year, it was 10.81 lakh million litres.

For the first time in years, only three of the six lakes overflowed during the monsoon. Vihar lake is worst off. It has only 8,342 million litres of water, way below the 26,949 million litres that were there at the same time last year.

Civic officials say the pressure in your taps is falling because of the falling water levels in the Master Balance Reservoirs (MBRs). And it could get worse.

The water level at the Yewai MBR, which supplies the eastern suburbs and parts of the island city, is critical. “The level dips to 0.8 metres [the maximum is 4 metres], which is not good,” said an official of the Hydraulic Department, requesting anonymity.

Water to the western suburbs is distributed through the Bhandup MBR, where the level has dipped to 1.8 metres.

“Western suburbs might face tough times as the situation is critical,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Anil Diggikar, who urged Mumbaiites to conserve as much water as possible.