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MUMBAI ALERT: Major water shortage looming over Mumbai and Maharashtra

IndiaNewsNetwork.IN Bureau | 4th Sept 15 : The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in Mumbai and the city administrators are playing down the emergency, but Mumbai is facing a huge water shortage this year. Already the BMC had quitely implemented an unofficial 10% water cut from August end, and according to latest reports, a decision was taken this week that residential, commercial and industrial areas will face a 20 per cent water cut where as malls, multiplexes, swimming pools, restaurants and hotels (that have water supply pipelines more than 100 mm in diameter) will face 50 per cent water cut.

According to DNA, the present stock of water in the six lakes supplying water to Mumbai is far below the required levels. The stock, as on August 20,2014, was 1299666 million litres. This would suffice the city for 351 days. This year, the stock is down to 934638 million litres. which may last only for 252 days.

The chart of six lakes shows that water levels are dismally low. In fact, when the city had faced a similar water shortage during 2012, the civic body had imposed a 20% water cut throughout the year.

However, civic administration maintains that even if water cut is imposed, the water department still cannot lose hope on rain. Monsoon this year may get extended and we may think of withdrawing water cut. But, as of now water, cut seems to be the best option. “This will also prepare citizens to use water judiciously,” said a water department official.

Members from political parties allege that the BMC has imposed a 10% water cut unofficially without informing citizens. If this water cut is imposed, it will amount to 30% water cut in several areas.

The water department, however, has dismissed allegations about unofficial 10% water cut, claiming that right now no cut has been imposed. However, citizens from different parts of Mumbai right from Colaba to Borivli told IndiaNewsNetwork.IN that over the last few days, the supply of water has reduced considerably. Even in prime areas like Lokhandwala (Andheri West), Parel, Borivili, Mulund, etc, citizens complained of a reduction in water supply over the last 10 days.

Sanjay Mukherjee, Additional Municipal Commissioner said, “We have decided to cut water supply by 20 per cent assuming that it will rain in September. Mumbai usually receives heavy rainfall during the Ganesh Utsav.”

However, he informed that if it does not rain in September, BMC will resort to stricter measures which may include providing water to the city only on alternate days. The water levels in lakes have fallen by 28 per cent as compared to the same time last year. Moreover, there is a shortage of 35 per cent water required throughout the year.

The city has a supply of 3750 million litres daily, when it instead requires 4720 million litres of water every day. The water currently available in Mumbai’s lakes needs to suffice the city until July 2016. The BMC will also impose 20 per cent cut in the water supplied to Thane and Bhiwandi municipal corporations. When asked about the long term measures that the BMC will resort to, Mukherjee said, “We will come down heavily if incidences of water theft or wastage of water are discovered. We will also begin to seal all leakages in water pipelines.”

The BMC will conduct daily follow ups of available water levels and amount of rainfall received, to decide if water cuts need to be increased further. Similarly, the city had faced 20 per cent water cut in July last year and 30 per cent water cut in July 2009. However, the BMC does not have a fixed policy for water cuts yet.

Not, just Mumbai, the entire state is feeling the water shortage due to scanty rains in August. According to a report in the Indian Express, an extended dry spell has depleted water sources in several parts of the state. Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse said water sources have almost entirely dried up in three districts, Latur, Beed, and Osmanabad, in the worst-hit Marathwada region, triggering a serious drinking water crisis.

Following a specially convened meeting of a cabinet sub-committee where water supply was deliberated, Khadse said, “We decided to evoke a contingency plan to deal with the crisis.”

The cabinet committee has decided to reserve dam water for supply of drinking water. While the government has pressed 1,751 tankers into service for supplying water to 1,340 villages and 2,362 hamlets, the cabinet sub-committee on Tuesday eased norms for tanker water supply further. “The cap that the tanker water will be supplied within 50 km of the water sources may be relaxed for areas where no water is available within the prescribed limit,” Khadse said.

According to an IANS report, Maharashtra plans to dig a whopping 100,000 wells and create 50,000 farm ponds from August 15 this year to tide over the drought threat looming over Maharashtra, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told media persons

The uncertainty over rains has reduced the ground water table which has adversely hit farming, prompting the state government to launch a major statewide water conservation programme.

“This will have multiple benefits especaily in the 14 suicide-prone districts of the state. While existing well digging works will be completed on priority, another new 100,000 new wells will be dug and 50,000 farm ponds will be created for irrigation,” Fadnavis told media persons.

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