As Mumbai received its heaviest rainfall in July in the past 55 years, accompanying heavy rainfall in the catchment areas of lakes supplying water to the city has compensated for the worrying deficit caused by the slow start to the monsoon in June. This has prompted the BMC to abandon its plans to carry out cloud-seeding in the city’s seven reservoirs.
Cloud-seeding is a process by which rain is induced by spraying hydroscopic particles into rain clouds to stimulate the precipitation process. Bangalore-based Agni Aviation carried out the exercise in 2009 at a cost of Rs 8 crore, but failed to yield results.
The civic body is now pinning its hopes on the heavy monsoon to continue through August and September and to adequately fill up the lakes — Tansa, Vehar, Tulsi, Upper Vaitarna, Bhatsa, Modak Sagar and the new Middle Vaitarna dam.
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At the start of June, in fear of a possible El Nino effect (global warming of surface waters) in the Indian sub-continent, the Indian Meteorological Department had predicted less than normal rainfall in the country. Mumbai also recorded the second driest June since 1951 during which lake-levels dipped dangerously low.
On July 2, the BMC imposed a 20 per cent water supply cut throughout Mumbai, which was later increased to 50 per cent for commercial properties such as malls and hotels. Tenders worth Rs 15 crore were also floated for cloud-seeding.
With the rains picking up in July, especially in the last week, the civic body delayed finalising the tender that had got two responses.
“We will be relived if the water stock cross limit of 11 lakh million litres to 12.5 lakh miillon litres. Over the past few days the rainfall has caused a good rise in stock. Hence, we don’t intend to carry out cloud-seeding now,” a senior civic official said.
Mumbai needs nearly 4,200 million litres of water daily, of which the civic body regularly supplies around 3,500 million litres. From this, the BMC imposed a 20 per cent water cut which has now been reduced to a 10 per cent cut.
Despite the increase in water stock, BMC appeals to citizens to use water judiciously as levels are still lower than what was recorded in 2013. As per civic data, in the same period last year, lake levels stood at 11.8 lakh million litres.
“We are lucky to have received adequate showers but the weather is unpredictable. The uncertainty has prompted us to consider a long-term water conservation programme. We request citizens to use water carefully,” the official said.