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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Mumbai civic body’s water plan: Pay more if you exceed usage cap

The BMC’s move would not only help save water, but also eliminate unequal distribution to Mumbai homes.

mumbai Updated: Jul 15, 2019 08:37 IST
Eeshanpriya M S
Eeshanpriya M S
Hindustan Times
BMC’s plan would not only help save water, but also eliminate unequal distribution to Mumbai homes.
BMC’s plan would not only help save water, but also eliminate unequal distribution to Mumbai homes. (Hindustan Times)

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has proposed setting a daily limit for how much water every household uses, and citizens who exceed that limit will be charged more — a move that would not only help save water, but also eliminate unequal distribution to Mumbai homes.

Currently, non-slum areas get 150 litres of water per person per day, while slums get a meagre 45 litres per person per day. These allotments, however, are not limits. In 2016, several MLAs raised the issue of inequitable water distribution in different areas of the city. They pointed out how the island city gets more water supply even though its population is far lower than the eastern and extended western suburbs (between Goregaon and Dahisar). Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis then asked the BMC to form a committee to study problems in water distribution across Mumbai and come up with ways to conserve water.

Two years on, the committee has filed its report, ‘Towards Equitable and 24x7 Water Supply for Greater Mumbai’, which suggests 21 measures, for the short-and-long-term, to ensure all homes in Mumbai get the same amount of water, for the same amount of time and at the same pressure. The report suggests water consumption of every home be accounted for on a daily basis, to prevent wastage and disproportionate distribution.

“The BMC will propose volumetric rates attached to each flat, instead of water metres for the entire building,” said municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi.

“This way, a higher rate will be applied to individual flat-owners who are consuming water above the limit.”

The report’s suggestions are on the premise that the city’s water demand will only keep increasing with the growing population.

Mumbai’s water needs is likely to rise from the 3,750 million liters of water a day (MLD) it needs today, to 4,849 MLD by 2021, 5,320 MLD by 2031, and 6,424 MLD by 2041, the committee said. But there is only 4,128 MLD available currently, slightly lower than the estimated 2021 demand.

The recommendations are in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030. Keeping in mind Mumbai’s growing population, the committee has also recommended preventing the loss of water to theft and leakages, monitoring bulk consumers of water such as hotels and charging them proportionately, replacing old pipelines, harvesting rainwater, recycling, and using ground water.

The report also cites that 27% water is non-revenue now — water lost to leakages, theft, unauthorised water connections, or metering inaccuracies. The report suggests bringing this down to 25% by 2021, 20% by 2031, and 15% by 2041.

“The objective of the report to provide equitable distribution of water is needed in Mumbai, said Ravi Raja, leader of the opposition in theBMC, Raja added that the report’s recommendation that citizens who use more water will pay more was a good move. “But, BMC should make sure the city harvests rain water, that all leakages are checked and there is no loss of water, that it curbs thefts and corrects erroneous billing to residents.”

Yogesh Sagar, Minister of State for Urban development, told the legislative council in June the BMC will be asked to start implementing the recommendations of this report. As per procedure, the report will be tabled before BMC’s general body comprising of elected representatives for its approval, before implementation starts.

In 2014, the civic body began a Water Distribution Improvement Programme (WDIP), similar to this plan. The 24x7 water supply model was tried out in two wards — T-ward (Mulund) and H-west ward (Bandra, Khar Road). However, it is yet to be successfully completed

First Published: Jul 15, 2019 01:03 IST

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