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Low on water, but slow to action

mumbai Updated: Jul 02, 2012 00:53 IST
Poorvi Kulkarni
Poorvi Kulkarni
Hindustan Times
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As rainfall continues to elude the city and the catchment areas of the lakes that supply it water, the civic body, which has imposed 10% water cut, has started debating on exploring alternative sources of water supply. However, experts said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is overlooking the more immediate, feasible steps it needs to take and is revisiting ambitious projects that have not taken off for years.

At the civic standing committee’s meeting last week, projects such as drawing water from Koyna dam, cloud seeding, recycling grey water and desalination of sea water were discussed, with corporators demanding that the BMC speed up these projects, initiated a few years ago.

Rajiv Jalota, additional municipal commissioner, said the BMC was in touch with the state on the issue of drawing water from Koyna dam. Referring to the desalination project, he said it was an expensive exercise, so the BMC was looking at collaborating with a private player.

The BMC has been unable to deliver on these projects for years, and experts believe it should focus on addressing the problems at hand, such as pilferage of water, implementation of rainwater harvesting and plugging water leaks. “The need is to regain focus on more immediate measures that can prevent the wastage of water,” said former deputy municipal commissioner Prakash Sanglikar.

Data from the hydraulics department shows that there are 80 pipeline leakages in the city that need to be fixed. There has been a 1.4% rise in the number of visible leakages detected in the past two years. While 2010 saw 25,355 leakages, 2011 experienced 25,709 leakages.

Despite making the installation of rainwater harvesting system mandatory for new buildings with a built-up area of 300 sq m and more, only 3,008 buildings have implemented the system. The BMC also does not have a mechanism to inspect whether the system is kept operational by housing societies later on.

“The BMC has established a full-fledged cell for this purpose, but the work done leaves much to be desired,” said Rajkumar Sharma, coordinator, AGNI. Suprabha Marathe, executive engineer, rainwater harvesting cell, blames citizens. “The BMC has executed several campaigns, but citizens are not receptive.”