Mumbai will have to live with steep water cuts until at least 15 July 2010.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has imposed a 15% cut in water supply for residential consumers, and a 30% cut for commercial establishments like hotels and malls.
Normally, Mumbai gets 3,420 million litres a day (mld) of water from the BMC’s six reservoirs in Mumbai suburban and Thane districts. A 15% cut in supply, when fully effective, will mean that this supply is reduced by more than 500 mld. Insufficient rains in the catchment areas of these reservoirs have meant that the lakes did not fill up to capacity.
In fact, the civic administration was keen to impose a 30% cut in supply for residential colonies too. But the BMC’s political leadership, already mauled in recent assembly elections, could not muster the courage to burden citizens that much.
The acute water shortage in Mumbai is leading to protests, like the one staged by over 100 y women from Shivaji Nagar slum who blocked traffic on Royal Lane, Juhu Tara Roadto halt on Sunday, 1 November 2009.
“Officials at the municipal ward office say they are supplying water to our area, but it has been three days without water. We have to rope in private water tankers, which are expensive,” said Suman Maruti, one of the protesters. Water supply resumed the same day, a local corporator said.
A week earlier, the BMC announced a plan to set up a toll-free helpline where citizens can inform the corporation about water thefts and leakages along its pipelines.
Water thefts, illegal connections and leakages amount to a loss of 700 million litres of water per day in the city out of its total daily supply of 3,200 mld.
The civic body’s move, however, met with staunch criticism from corporators. “What is the use of setting up new helplines when the existing ones are not functional?” asked BJP corporator Ashish Shelar said.
In September 2009, the corporation had received about 2,200 complaints about leakages and 397 complaints regarding thefts from across the city. “The city has 25 per cent less water stock than its requirement at present. We will make sure that complaints received are looked in to,” said municipal commissioner Jairaj Phatak.
After making rainwater harvesting compulsory in 2002, the BMC is now considering to make bore wells mandatory for all existing and upcoming buildings to meet the needs of water for non-potable uses like gardening and cleaning. However, Additional Municipal Commissioner Anil Diggikar warned that excessive bore well digging could make the water brackish.
In October 2002, the BMC made it mandatory for all buildings having a plot area of 1000 square metres or more to have rainwater harvesting. In 2007, it was made compulsory for buildings with plot area of 300 square metres. The rainwater collected from roof tops can be stored in tanks or bore wells. However, till June 2009 only 900 buildings had actually implemented the plan due to lack of monitoring mechanism.
Source: Sandeep Ashar, DNA, 29 Oct 2009 ; Express India, 02 Nov 2009 ; Indian Express, 22 Oct 2009