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Why water is dirty in Kanpur

Highly industrialised Kanpur is among the most polluted cities in the country. Sewage and industrial wastewater being important polluters.The rapid rate of urbanisation, ageing distribution network, unscientific ways of industrialisation and incorrect sewage disposal have collectively resulted in acute water problems.

india Updated: Jun 26, 2003 15:48 IST

Kanpur's railway station. The busy metropolis is extremely water stressed.

The rapid rate of urbanisation, ageing water distribution network, unscientific ways of industrialisation and incorrect ways of waste disposal, whether industrial or sewage have collectively resulted in acute water problems in all Indian cities. We examine Kanpur today.

In a city with an area of 1,050 sq km and populace of 60 lakhs the supply of water in Kanpur is just for 30 per cent. What is worse is that 40 per cent of the hand pumps are lying inoperative and the ground water level has dipped considerably to leave the people high and dry.

Such is the crisis that people are pooling money to pay for water tankers or covering miles on hired rickshaws to fetch water. Rioting over water is common in most places in the city. But for those who still expect some relief, there is bad news. The Kanpur Jal Sansthan hasn't the funds or the resources to narrow down the gap in supply and demand.

At present Kanpur Jal Sansthan (KJS) supplies 350 million litres per day (mld) of water from the available resources - Bhairon Ghat Pumping station which gives 200 mld, 50 mld from hand pumps and 100 from the total 109 tube wells. But with the soaring mercury before the onset of monsoons in the state (in the months of May and June), the demand of water has gone up to 650 mld or minimum 150 litres per head.

 Kanpur Memorial Church

The crisis had increased further as the major source of water supply, the Lower Ganga Canal has not been in use for long. The canal that caters to a major slice of the population in South City is full of silt and the cleaning isn't possible for weeks.

Similarly, the pumping station at Bhairon Ghat is not consistent in water supply because of power crisis and absence of dredging. That hasn't been done properly for months as the employees were attacked by criminals.

In fact the 14 hours dredging a day is required to feed Bhairon Ghat pumping station 200 mld water everyday. But nowadays the employees are running dredgers for just three to four hours only to compound the crisis.

The residents of South City seem destined to bear the brunt for some more time with the delay in making the much-hyped pumping station at Gujaini operational. The KJS claims that the station would bring down the demand considerably.

Experts contradict the claim saying the station would supply just 28 mld instead of demand for 350 mld. At present the southern parts are getting somewhere between 65 to 70 mld. The frightening crisis is welling up despite the Kanpur Municipal Corporation having made a provision of Rs 1 crore in the annual budget to tackle the problem.

First Published: Jun 26, 2003 14:29 IST