Updated: August 9, 2021 4:35:14 am
While most of the residents point out that 24×7 water supply is not the need of the hour in Chandigarh as the city already consumes double the national norm per person, the Chandigarh Smart City Limited has advocated the project saying that “24×7 water supply will revolutionise services to the poor”.
A representation was made by activist R K Garg to the Prime Minister’s Office citing that 24×7 water supply will lead to wastage of water. However, the Smart City Limited, which has already sought a loan of Rs 400 crore, justified the project.
Garg said that the loan repayment and its humongous interest will be at the cost of residents as they will have to shell out huge amounts in their water bills.
The Smart City Limited wrote back to Garg saying “to provide 24×7 water supply to Chandigarh (Pan City) is mainly aimed to reduce the Non-Revenue Water (NRW) Percentage (within 15% only) … to help in conservation of water resources, prevention of leakages (even up to household level), preservation of underground water level by gradually phasing out the drinking water supply through tubewells and to provide fresh surface level water for drinking purpose round the clock”.
It was said that the project aims to increase saving/minimise wastage of water as there will be no storage of water by public and to maintain pressure in distribution network for availing water at any point of time during the day along with controlling contamination of water through pressure in the lines.
The reply by the Smart City Ltd mentions that the agenda item for 24×7 water supply to Chandigarh (Pan City) was presented in General House of Municipal Corporation Chandigarh December 30, 2019:
Also, based on evidence from other similar nature of projects (i.e. already implemented/under implementation across India through Central Govt. funded or foreign banks, etc.), it has been observed that continuous water supply delivers significant benefits, it was said.
According to the Smart City Limited, 24×7 supply delivers better quality water for public health.
Also, 24×7 supply gives significantly better service to all consumers as there is access to clean water with improved quality and quantity, timing, and pressure, it was stated.
The Chandigarh Smart City Limited said that 24×7 supply revolutionizes service to the poor.
“Consumers can access round the clock water for improved health and hygiene while saving time in queuing, carrying, storing and gainfully using the time thus saved for employment opportunities. Also, 24×7 supply converts household coping costs into resources for the service provider. As the water will be available as high as 17 feet (min.), and eradicate the usage of water pumps to lift the water, thus saving electricity. Hence, coping costs that consumers need to incur will be reduced,” it was said.
The agency stated that 24×7 supply will reduce the burden on water resources.
“Continuous supply reduces water wastage arising from overflowing storage systems and open taps. It saves on stored household water that is discarded when new supply comes in. Because the network is renewed where needed, it also reduces losses arising from leaks in the old pipes. Also, 24×7 supply delivers effective supply management and demand management,” the Smart City Ltd stated.
It was mentioned that 24×7 supply enables improved efficiency of service provision. It also makes possible the management of illegal connections as well as more efficient measurement of water consumption/leakages/theft etc, it was said.
“Therefore, considering the necessity of the project along with its significant benefits, it is hereby submitted that said complaint seems baseless and may be considered closed, in accordance to (sic) the provisions/norms established by the Govt. of India (GOI), so that objectives may be achieved and accordingly listed benefits could be availed by the native residents,” the chief general manager, Chandigarh Smart City Limited, Chandigarh, mentioned.
However, replying to the Smart City Ltd’s justification, Garg stated that the project will be a financial burden on city residents.
“Chandigarh does not have its own water availability and MC is not able to supply uninterrupted supply even for 5 hours every day..24×7 water without a sure source of water will be another failure of MC. In this case, there is a loan which has to be served with revenue generated. Already people are against the high water tariff, sewerage cess and other cess. How will MC pay back, particularly when there are political issues also?” he said.
GARG’S REPRESENTATION TO PMO
The recent decision of the Smart City wing of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation to take a loan of Rs 400 crore from an agency of France for 24×7 water supply has astonished the residents of Chandigarh. This loan with interest will be paid in the coming seven years and execution of full plan will take long time till 2027 which may not happen at all like many such plans under execution elsewhere in India.
Having failed miserably to maintain financial discipline, the Chandigarh MC is known for its financial crisis. The residents are averse to not very useful projects, worth crores of funds. Having decorative value only like underground parking in Sector 17 or Rose Garden underpath just to mention two.
Reverting to the issue under reference, it is emphasized that in Chandigarh, per capita availability of water is already double the national average of 135 liters per day. The source of water is specific for Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana. It is also a known fact that that almost 35% of the water received is wasted in the leakage. The public water taps in the colonies remain missing and the water flows freely.
The repayment of loan and interest thereon will increase the burden on municipal corporation, which is already facing a financial crunch. It will ultimately burden the residents only.
It is beyond comprehension as to why Chandigarh Administration is resorting to taking a loan from a foreign agency for its basic civic amenities and why Central govt has agreed to enter into such avoidable loan. The loan amount is not going to increase the availability of water at the source in any way, neither it is meant for creating any extra source of water anywhere for Chandigarh residents. Had this loan or any other expertise been taken to augment the supply of water from Bhakra Beas Water Reservoir, stop the leakage of water or for better quality of drinking water then it could be a welcome step being a long-term proposition.
It is felt that the loan is being taken to please the foreign agency at the cost of Chandigarh residents. The agreement for this loan is to be signed in May 2021 by the Central Govt as such entire process of loan should be reviewed and stopped, lest it puts burden on all us residents of Chandigarh.
City draws more than national norm
According to the national norm, only 135 litres of water is required per person per day and in Chandigarh, 254 litres of water is available per person per day, which is 119 litres more than the fixed norm. So Chandigarh does not have any special requirement of water for 24 hours.
Till now, 35 per cent of the drinking water in Chandigarh is wasted every year due to leakage.
The city has more than 2.5 lakh households, but the number of water consumers are just two-third at 1.8 lakh connections. Non-revenue water losses for the city are more than 25 per cent.
Average consumption 40KL per household
As per the Central Ground Water Authority and BIS Code, water requirement for domestic use is 150 to 200 litres per head per day (lphd) for communities above 10 lakh of population (translates to 22.5 to 30 KL per household per month).
In Chandigarh, average water consumption is around 40 KL per household per month which happens to be higher than the actual human needs. Prime reasons for the higher water consumption for the city are due to higher water leakage losses, unmetered connections and use of potable water for irrigation of green covers.
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