The countdown has begun, and it’s not a pleasant one. Wading through knee-high water, Mumbaikars may find it hard to believe that the catchment areas are so dry that the lakes will be able to provide water to the city only for 23 days.
Don’t be fooled by the waterlogged streets in Mumbai. The lakes that supply water to the city are getting no rain. Pic/Emmanual Karbhari
If that’s an unbelievable pill to swallow, here’s a bitter one to go with it — the quantum of the water cuts, which is currently 20 per cent, is likely to be hiked soon.
Water, water everywhere: No, there really isn’t a drop to drink. That’s probably what this Mumbaikar was contemplating below Andheri Metro station yesterday. Pic/Nimesh Dave
BMC officials said yesterday that the amount of stock available in the seven lakes that supply water to the city stands at 87,184 million litres, which will be sufficient for just another 23 days. While Tulsi and Vihar, which are within the Greater Mumbai area, have been receiving good rainfall — nearly 74 mm yesterday itself —Modak Sagar, Upper Vaitarna, Tansa and Bhatsa are depleting rapidly. The newly constructed Middle Vaitarna lake has also as not proved beneficial for the city as the lake level has stood at 0 metres (which indicates there is no water stock or useful content in the lake) for a long time.
Moreover, Tulsi and Vihar, which have received more rainfall, are used to provide water to industrial areas as opposed to residential ones. All these factors combined have forced the BMC to consider increasing the quantum of water cuts.
“There is water scarcity in the city and it has not been raining that well in the catchment areas. The rainfall was better than earlier yesterday and we hope it continues the same way for another month or two. If that happens, there will be no water issues, but if it does not, we will have to impose more water cuts. We need to spread awareness on water conservation and we will start the campaign soon,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Rajeev Jalota.
The water cuts and the public reaction to them made the opposition in the BMC demand that the cuts be extended to commercial users too. The civic administration, however, sees a hidden agenda in this as many corporators are involved with the water tanker lobby. Imposing water cuts on industrial units, BMC officials said, will give a significant boost to the tanker business.
Opposition leader and Congress Corporator Devendra Amberkar said, “The BMC never curtails water supply for commercial users and imposes cuts on common citizens alone. We demand water cuts for all commercial users in the city. The supply of water to swimming pools should also be stopped as that leads to wastage in times of scarcity. Just because the city gets water doesn’t mean we need to waste it.”
A BMC official, said, “Water cut for commercial users is not going to make a big difference as only 10% of water is supplied for commercial use and the rest is given to residents. We fear that the corporators may have a hidden agenda as some are involved with the water tanker lobby. We are yet to take a decision on the issue.”
Litres of water stock available in the seven lakes which supply water to the city
The approximate amount of litres of water that the city needs daily
53mm: The amount of rainfall that was recorded by the IMD at Santacruz yesterday
No Plan B
mid-day had reported on Thursday about the BMC failing to ease the city’s dependence on the seven lakes. Civic body officials had told this paper that the Pinjal dam, which is expected to provide an additional 1,000 million litres of water to the city every day, will not be ready before 2022. The Gargai Dam, which was announced nearly three years back, also exists only on paper. Even solving the leakage and wastage problems, officials had said, will take another five years at least.
To spread awareness on the need to save water, the BMC is planning to make various short films and use social networking sites and youtube to get citizens to watch them. It is also planning to leverage the nearly 1 lakh phone numbers it had collected to send water bills through SMS. It now plans to send the links to the videos to all these phone numbers.