Supply projects kicked off, but track record gives little reason to cheer | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Supply projects kicked off, but track record gives little reason to cheer

mumbai Updated: Dec 03, 2009 00:57 IST
Bhavika Jain

Mumbai’s water requirement will be 4,408 million litres a day (MLD) in the next two years and 4,949 MLD by 2021, according to the Human Development Report (HDR) compiled by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the United Nations Development Programme.

The current demand is 4,300 MLD as against the supply of 3,450 MLD.

The BMC is now banking on the Rs 1,600-crore Middle Vaitarna project, expected to be ready by 2011, which will give the city 455 MLD.

“In the next few years, dams on the Gargai and Pinjal rivers will also be ready,” said Chief hydraulic Engineer Dinesh Gondalia. The dams will give Mumbai another 1,310 MLD. However, work on these projects will start only after Middle Vaitarna is complete.

In private, civic officials aren’t hopeful of a quick resolution. An official, requesting anonymity, said it would take 10 years to get environmental clearances and funds for the dams.

The city’s track record on such projects doesn’t give much cheer either. Planning for Middle Vaitarna began 13 years ago, but work began only in 2007.

Supply problems apart, the HDR said that water contamination complaints are also on the rise. Of the 37,939 samples collected in 2007-2008, 4,730 were contaminated, mostly with the E.coli bacteria, which cause gastric problems and urinary tract infections.

Another dead end?

The plan to treat seawater and use it for drinking purposes may not take off if the opinion of former chief secretary Johny Joseph is considered. Joseph, who headed a panel to decide whether the plan was feasible, said on Wednesday: “The costs are too high compared to that of providing a conventional supply.” The BMC had identified sites to set up desalination plants.