Buckling under political pressure, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to stop water cuts in Mumbai for one month, starting today.
As September sees many festivals — Gokulashtami, Eid, Ganeshostav — Mumbaiites would not have to deal with less water. “The water cut will be rolled back only for a month. It has been stopped for the festive month,” said municipal commissioner Swadheen Kshatriya.
At the end of September, the BMC will review the stock in the six lakes that supply water to the city and decide whether the cuts need to be imposed again.
Currently, four of the six lakes have overflowed, and the total water stock is 11.07 lakh million litres as against 7.81 lakh million litres during the same period last year.
Just two days ago, the BMC had announced that it would supply an additional 100 million litres daily (MLD) after a stormy standing committee meeting. Mumbaiites have had to live with 15 per cent water cut for a year now as 2009 saw a delayed and poor monsoon. As the water situation in the lakes improved with this year’s rains, the civic body had reduced the water cut by 11 per cent.
The committee on Wednesday had demanded that the BMC should stop water cuts completely, but the administration had argued that the two big lakes that together supply 70 per cent of the city’s water requirement — Bhatsa and Upper Vaitarna — are yet to overflow.
While Bhatsa is 18 per cent away from full capacity, Upper Vaitarna is 36 per cent away.
Since the past week, all political parties have been demanding that the BMC withdrawing water cuts. On Friday, a little before the BMC made the announcement, Opposition Leader Rajhans Singh met additional municipal commissioner Anil Diggikar and made the same demand.
Civic officials said this would have been a good time to continue with water cuts and raise the water stock in the lakes. “Politicians are thinking of how to please their votebank rather then of the city’s well-being,” said activist G.R. Vora. “The civic chief should have waited for a month or at least till the lakes reached a more comfortable level before withdrawing the water cut.”
The BMC has also undertaken pilot water audit projects in eight zones across the city. The project, which will cost Rs 4.5 crore, will study underground leakages and the capacity of water pipelines, among other things.