Ludhiana's summer woes
Come summer and Ludhiana's water shortages show up. Although the corporation has assured the residents that it is taking measures to ensure that Punjab's most populous city's gets adequate supply of water, the soaring of the mercury this summer is again seeing the same, recurring problems.
In almost all the parts of the city that get water from the corporation, water pressure is a major issue. There is hardly a house in Ludhiana that does not use a water pump for drawing out the water from water pipes. In congested city areas, where the pumps are failing to do the job, the people are fast purchasing larger, one horsepower motors. People are also installing submersible pumps to ensure round-the-clock water supply.
Deteriorating quality: It is not only the quantity but the quality of water too that is becoming a major concern. The areas lying along Buddha Nullah and the industrial area are worst hit by contaminated water. The outbreak of the water borne diseases like jaundice is a regular feature of this season.
Studies conducted by the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) reveal startling figures. A study by SS Sirohi, Retired Associate Professor, PAU, states that the Nullah has polluted groundwater up to 1,200 metres on the right and 250 metres on its left side. The water turbidity had risen to 363.5 mg per litre against permissible limits of 5 mg per litre. The total hardness was to 409 mg per litre against permissible limit of 200 mg per litre.
Increasing land-man ratio: But what has became major headache for Municipal Corporation is the presence of more than 200 unauthorised localities. Most of the residents of such colonies are virtually forced to fight for every drop of water.
Even some like those living in Mahavir Enclave have to walk several kilometres to get water. The residents of such localities say that at times it is hard for them to believe that they are living in a big industrial city. The corporation authorities however say that in the absence of any government policy to declare these localities as legal, they are helpless.
Water politics: Water has come to occupy the centrestage in city politics. One of issues on which the 2002 Municipal Corporation elections was contested was the provision of free water and sewage for the city residents. All the parties promised this in their election manifestoes.
The proposal for free water and sewage has been passed twice by the corporation but both the times it was rejected by the state government. Even during the budget session of this year, the proposal was tabled and passed by the councilors for the third time but was rejected by Commissioner SK Sharma. "One must pay for the services. There is nothing as a free lunch," is what he said.