While the lakes supplying potable water to Mumbai are yet to fill due to the uncertain rainfall in the catchment areas, the question arises: why isn’t there an alternative in place to rid the city of water cuts that are imposed following scanty rainfall?
Unlike other countries, or cities like Chennai, where desalination process is implemented to address water crisis, Mumbai lacks a back-up plan.
Several Middle Eastern countries have successfully desalinised seawater to meet their daily water demands. Closer home, Chennai has achieved the feat through reverse osmosis. The entire project cost Rs 600 crore, a miniscule amount in the BMC’s Rs 33,000-crore annual budget.
The then Democratic Front-led state government had mooted a proposal to establish two desalination plants — one in the island city and the other in the suburbs — to generate up to 100 million litres of water daily. The city needs 4,200 MLD (million litres per day). But the project soon became unviable, as costs escalated drastically following which, the then chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said citizens wouldn’t be able to afford the water.
Same was the case with its cloud seeding and rainwater harvesting experiments; the state confined them to the rural areas.
In its last budget, the BMC announced the long-pending Gargai-Pinjal and Damanganga-Pinjal river link projects. But these projects are being executed with the view of meeting the city’s water demands in 2040.
While a study conducted in Borneo about the effects of deforestation on cloud formation is debatable, nobody here will even consider the need for having more forests around Mumbai.
In fact, the existing ones are falling prey to the mining and land mafia. Same goes for the mangroves, that will be butchered for the proposed coastal road and other projects.
The BMC announced 20 per cent water cut with immediate effect from today. The seven lakes supplying water to the city collectively hold 9.62 lakh litres water, which is 28 per cent less as compared to 2014. This implies that till the time we don’t have a back-up, the city will be subjected to water cuts whenever there is inadequate rainfall.