CHANDIGARH, THE planned city of the country, faced one of its worst water crisis in the last two days. On Monday, the first working day of the week, city residents literally craved for water and in most of the cases had to wait for a water tanker even for 24 hours.
The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation received 2,300 complaints pertaining to no water and requesting for a tanker. Officials said that they were able to send tankers to resolve 1,700 plaints while the remaining 600 could not be resolved due to high demand for the tankers.
Following a lot of hue and cry on Sunday with even local political leaders asking the officers to get the issue rectified soon, the officials of the Chandigarh civic body asked the Punjab government to somehow fix the fault. A stopgap arrangement was made in the evening, and the MC announced that the water supply was likely to be restored by Tuesday morning.
Initially, Phase III and IV of the Kajauli waterworks reported serious leakages in the valves. Simultaneously, couplings of phase I and phase II also gave up.
What ails the pipelines at Kajauli?
Officials of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation said that obsolete machinery and lack of proper maintenance is the reason behind the frequent breakdowns at the Kajauli waterworks located at Morinda in Punjab. They stated that the valves and surge tanks are 30 years old while the headers are around 10 years old.
Chandigarh pays Rs 1.6 crore as the monthly maintenance charges at Kajauli waterworks and Rs 2.5 crore as monthly electricity bill to Punjab for running the pumps there.
Officials stated that the valves of phase 1 and II haven’t been replaced for nearly 30 years because of which leakages occur. These flow control valves help in regulating flow or pressure of water. Since they are old, if for example two MGD of water has to be released, the defective valve won’t regulate the flow and can send out additional or less water.
There is no arrangement if there is a power failure as well. When the water is pumped, it goes to the headers first and then the pipelines. In case of a power failure, headers need to prevent the back flow of water. As headers are obsolete, they don’t prevent the backflow, following which the pumps get submerged in water and thus damaged, a situation that arose in 2016 as well.
Not just valves and headers but even the surge tanks are too old and the technology is outdated. As the headers are obsolete, they are not able to take the pressure when there is a back flow of water. This results in frequent leakages and thus for repair, the phases have to be shut down.
Surge tanks play an important role. They are set up to absorb the sudden change in water pressure. If surge tanks are old, like in this case, it would damage the headers. Because of this, leakage occurs.
At present, UT gets 85 million gallons daily (MGD). Of this, about 58 MGD comes from the Kajauli waterworks Phases I, II, III and IV, and the remaining 27 MGD is generated through 250 tubewells. In summers, the demand goes up to 120 MGD.
How water reaches Chandigarh
For water to reach Chandigarh from Kajauli waterworks, water is lifted from the Bhakra main canal, SYL. The water is supplied to Sector 39 Water Treatment Plant (WTP) in Chandigarh through four pipelines, Phase I, II, III and IV. The Phase 1, II and IV is maintained by Punjab while Phase III is maintained by the Chandigarh MC.
Thereafter from Sector 39 Water Treatment Plant, Mohali gets its 10 MGD share of water at Sectors 56 and 57, where two WTPs of five MGD capacity have been installed. To store the water, the town has four reservoirs with a capacity to store 30 lakh gallons 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.