Frequent disruptions in the normal water supply to the city are reported every second month, forcing residents to depend on the municipal water tankers. The fault lies with the poorly maintained Kajauli waterworks, situated near Morinda, which is the main source of water supply to the city. This, despite the fact that an amount of Rs 1.6 crore is paid to the Punjab government annually by the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation for the maintenance of Kajauli waterworks.
Breakdown of the motors and obsolete machinery at the Kajauli waterworks is said to be the main reason behind the frequent water crisis. Officials blame frequent tripping of power supply for the breakdown of the machinery.
“The sudden power shutdown damages the motors. There are machines which have not been replaced since 90s. Even the hydraulic system has not been changed since 1982,” said an official of Punjab public health wing. Chandigarh pays Rs 2.5 crore as monthly electricity bill to Punjab for running the pumps.
In the last week of July this year, a technical snag due to power failure had left the city waterless for three days. The delivery header of the Kajauli waterworks, Phase I and II, had burst in the morning. The water flooded the two pump houses, which have machineries of Phase I, II, III and IV.
Following this, all the eight motors in both the pump houses stopped functioning. With this, motors, panels and other machines installed there got submerged in water.
According to the officials, due to a power failure, there was back flow of water in the pipeline to Chandigarh, which damaged the motors. A report by MC officials said that the snag was due to power failure and the civic body should go ahead with an independent hotline electricity connection so that such incidents did not occur in future.
As there is no proper back-up, the officials even recommend that generators be installed for power back-up and all defective machinery be replaced. However, the recommendations seemed to be of no effect.
In September again, a snag developed in the pipeline of phase III there and the city had to face a water crisis for two days. Due to leakage in 1,200mm pipeline, the officials had to repair the same because of which there was no pumping of water from Kajauli to waterworks in Sector 39.
In 2013 as well, the city remained waterless for 15 days following a leakage in the Phase III and IV pipelines of the Kajauli waterworks.
As per details with the engineering wing of Chandigarh MC, nearly 25 per cent of the total drinking water is wasted every day due to the leakage in the water pipelines. Both internal and main pipelines have not been changed for the past few decades.
The officials say that out of the 87 mgd water that the city receives every day, around 20-22 mgd water is wasted due to leakages.
After these two recent incidents, Mayor Arun Sood had blamed the ill-maintenance of the waterworks by the Punjab public health wing. He had decided to speak to the Punjab government to take over the maintenance of the waterworks because, according to him, their “engineers were not maintaining it properly” due to which this situation occurred quite frequently.
“The major share is of Chandigarh, so why not we people maintain it? For that, I would be speaking with the Punjab government,” said Sood.
The Mohali authorities insist that they had already initiated the process of upgradation of Kajauli waterworks.“We are already in the process of upgrading the plant and for that, tenders would be floated soon. It may just take another month,” said Amit Dhaka, chief administrator of the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority.
Work on 2 more phases on
The work for laying two more phases — V and VI — is already on. Land has been acquired at Jandpur in Mohali and tenders will be floated soon for the laying of pipelines and setting up of water treatment plant. The setting up of two more phases will bring additional 29 mgd of water for Chandigarh.
The project of laying the 23.5-km-long Phase V and VI pipeline from Kajauli waterworks to Jandpur was launched in March 2012 and it was only this year that the process began after the mayor had a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal requesting him to direct the GMADA to expedite the entire project.
In 1983, an agreement was signed between Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana, wherein it was decided that the water from Bhakra through the Kajauli waterworks will be supplied to Mohali, Chandigarh, Chandimandir and Panchkula.
How does water reach Chandigarh?
Kajauli waterworks is set up at Kajauli village and from there water is lifted from the Bhakra main canal, SYL. A total of 80 mgd of water is supplied to Sector 39 Water Treatment Plant (WTP) in Chandigarh through four pipelines, Phase I, II, III and IV, with a capacity of 20 mgd each. Here in Sector 39, the water is treated. While 70 mgd is treated at the Sector 39 waterworks, five million gallons are treated at the Sector 12 waterworks.
For the purpose of storage of water, there are four reservoirs with a capacity to store 30 lakh gallons of water each in sectors 56, 57, 64 and Phase 10, two reservoirs of one lakh gallons capacity each in sectors 70 and 71 and one reservoir of five lakh gallon capacity at Phase VII.Chandigarh is divided into various zones. There are six zones for the purpose of water supply. Each of these zones is fed through independent waterworks in sectors 12, 26, 32, 52, 37 and Manimajra I and II.
Situation at present
UT’s requirement is 87 million gallons daily (MGD). While 67 MGD comes from Kajauli waterworks, Phases I, II, III and IV, the remaining is generated through 200 tubewells in the city. The demand usually goes up in summers, up to around 116 mgd.