Even as the term of the Amritsar municipal corporation is drawing to a close, there seems to be no end to the city's water woes. Leaking taps and dry water pipes coexist in the city with the MC authorities doing little to check the wastage of water and solve the problem of shortage of this precious commodity.
Much of the wastage is occurring at points where public taps are supposed to be installed. The MC has also not been been able to ensure the supply of clean drinking water to residents.
Officials say there are more than 1,000 leaking taps and open-ended pipes across the city, particularly in Gawal Mandi and a government school situated there, Indira Colony, Haripura, Nawan Kot, Haripura and adjoining localities, Maqboolpura, Kitchlew Chowk, a public toilet outside the Sadar police station and the office of the horticulture department.
Open-ended pipes can be spotted even on the MC premises. The city, despite generating about 200 million litres of water everyday, is yet to provide clean drinking water to all its residents. The city's water requirements far exceed the supply. Many localities still have to go without water.
Sources said that every year new colonies, most of them unauthorised, were being added in the municipal limits, which was further aggravating the problem.
However, according to experts, the demand for water notwithstanding, 1 litre of water is wasted in the city in a span of 12 seconds, which amounts to 54,000 litres a month and 6.48 lakh litres a year. As per the data of the past ten years, the groundwater level of Amritsar has been depleting at a rate of 70 cm a year.
The MC is yet to initiate steps to recharge the groundwater. No steps have been taken yet to install rainwater harvesting wells, as directed by the government. As per the government directives, rainwater harvesting systems are to be put up in houses measuring 200 square yards and above.
While localities around Chabhal Road are coping with water shortage, other areas like Jawahar Nagar and Indira Colony are being supplied dirty water. Residents of Chobhal Road say the problem is at its worst in June and July, when the summer is at its peak. They say MC tankers are called almost every year after their taps run dry.
Residents of Jawahar Nagar and Indira Colony, on the other hand, are forced to consume dirty water. "The problem is so bad that many people in the area have fallen ill," said Madhuri Tripathi, a resident of the area.
She said this was mainly because the MC had never given a serious thought to laying sewerage in half the area. "On the other hand, the sewers in the other areas usually remain clogged.
The mixing of sewage with drinking water supply is playing havoc with residents' health. Our repeated requests to the MC have fallen on deaf ears," she said.
Deepak Babbar, President, Mission Aagaaz, an NGO dealing with environmental affairs, said the MC had been apprised of the problem of leakage time and again, but nothing had been done so far in this regard. "We took the initiative of plugging some points by installing taps, but there are several such points that need to be plugged," he said.
Jaswinder Singh, superintendent engineer, water supply, said efforts were being made to deal with the problem of leaking taps. "We plug these points as and when they come to our notice," he said.
Claiming that over 200 tubewells had been installed in the city to deal with the shortage of water, Jaswinder Singh said, "Some areas are facing shortage of water because the city lacks 100% water connectivity. So far only 76% of the area has access to the MCs water supply. A detailed project has been sent to the government for providing water connections to the remaining 34% area," he said.
'Dig wells, install handpumps'
Stressing the need to conserve water, Mission Aagaaz president Deepak Babbar urged the MC to install handpumps and dig wells at places where water wastage was more common. "This will go a long way in curbing water wastage as people will then have to make some effort to draw water," he said.