Mumbai loses out on 455 million litres of water a day

The rain gods may be smiling on the city -- in fact, bursting into thunderous chuckles -- but the BMC is straight-faced as the city loses out on 455 million litres of water every day (mld), thanks to an incomplete bridge at the Middle Vaitarna dam.

Bridge across water woes: The under-construction bridge at the Middle Vaitarna dam in Thane rural district off Mokhada-Khodala Road

Mumbai cannot avail of the additional 455 mld of water from Vaitarna dam, because the altitude of the existing bridge at the Middle Vaitarna dam in Thane rural district constricts its capacity. So it fell upon the public works department to construct a higher bridge, allowing the dam to hold more of water. The bridge was supposed to be ready by May last year, but the work is still pending.

Presumptive loss
Moreover, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation was counting on earning revenue from the increased water supply. But with the bridge incomplete, the civic body is losing out on Rs 150 crore annually -- amount it would have earned if the city received this huge quantum of water starting October last year, as originally planned.

The city has about 9 lakh water meters (or consumers) including commercial and residential. The BMC supplies water at the rate of Rs 4.50, Rs 3 and Rs 30 to residential complexes, chawls and hotels respectively. Every year the BMC revises the charges with an 8 per cent hike.

But with the water supply stuck because of pending construction at the dam, the corporation is losing revenue.

SVR Srinivas, additional municipal commissioner, confirmed the trouncing the civic authority’s treasury is taking. “We are losing Rs 150 crore as we could not fill the dam to full capacity,” said Srinivas.

The bridge was to be built by the public works department (PWD). “If the bridge had been completed by May 2012, we could have earned about Rs 150 crore,” said Dilip Patel, group leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the BMC.

A new deadline of August 21 has been set for completing the bridge, BMC sources said.

Why Mumbai still faces water shortage
The delay in getting the additional 455 mld water supply is because the bridge which is being constructed on Vaitarna River is still not ready. The project is undertaken by the public works department (PWD), off Mokhada-Khodala Road. Once the new bridge is built, the old stone masonry on the existing bridge would be allowed to be submerged, allowing the dam to hold more water, which can then be released to the city. The new bridge will also facilitate crossing the river for locals.

Dammed bridge
The ambitious Middle Vaitarna dam project, worth over Rs 2,000 crore, commenced in Shahapur, Thane district in October 2008 and finished in May 2012. It was expected that the city would get additional 455 mld of water from October 2012 after the dam was filled to capacity in the monsoon. But delay in the bridge’s completion became a hurdle for filling up the dam, and BMC could get only 70 mld from the dam. The project was recommended by Chitale Committee in 1993.

Water woes
800 mld

The water shortage Mumbai currently faces

3,400 mld
Water supply city currently receives

4,200 mld
Water supply city needs

3,855 mld
The total water supply city would get after Middle Vaitarna project is complete

Aug 21
Revised deadline for finishing construction on the new bridge

May 2012
The original deadline for building the bridge

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