Mumbai water scarcity: BMC relying on irrigation dept reserve stock as its last resort

The BMC had twice in the past months sought approval from the irrigation department, which last month denied permission to use the reserve stock.

Written by Arita Sarkar | Mumbai | Updated: June 17, 2016 2:12:13 am
bmc, mumbai muncipal corporation, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation , road contractors, mumbai road works, mumbai public works, mumbai pwd, mumbai news The civic chief suspended then chief engineer roads Ashok Pawar, who is currently chief engineer of the building and maintenance department, and Chief Engineer of Vigilance Uday Murdudkar, who is already under suspension in the drain de-silting scam.

WITH MONSOON yet to the reach city, the civic corporation is now heavily relying on the irrigation department as its last resort. On Thursday, it wrote to the department yet again, asking for permission to use water from the reserve stock of dams. The current stock in Upper Vaitarna and Bhatsa dams will only last till the end of this month. Monsoon was expected to arrive in Mumbai last week.

The BMC had twice in the past months sought approval from the irrigation department, which last month denied permission to use the reserve stock.

“A letter had gone from Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta to the irrigation department last month and we have sent another letter on Thursday asking them to allow us to use 50 per cent of the reserve stock. We are expecting a reply in a week’s time,” said an official from the hydraulic engineering department of the BMC, adding the existing water supply would last for 17 days.

If the permissions are granted, the BMC will be able to use 1,58,000 million litres of water from both Bhatsa and Upper Vaitarna dams, which is expected to last till the end of July. The current stock of water from all seven lakes stands at 1,12,000 million litres.

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The hydraulic engineering department has been trying to maintain an average water cut of 15 per cent throughout the city. It has already stopped supplying water to swimming pools. Despite several measures to save potable water, a substantial quantity has been lost in multiple leakages in major pipelines and in firefighting operations in the last couple of months. Additionally, around 8,628 million litres have been lost due to evaporation.

Figures recorded Thursday indicated that all seven lakes received rainfall on this day last year — 166 mm in Upper Vaitarna and 156 mm in Bhatsa. This year, however, no rainfall was recorded at Upper Vaitarna, while Bhatsa received 15 mm.

Activists blamed the civic body for not putting in enough efforts to utilise water more efficiently all round the year on a regular basis. James John, an activist from Andheri East, said people were still using potable water for washing vehicles and clothes.

“People lack discipline and civic sense to use water judiciously. The BMC should ration water so that people use as much as they get, and also put in efforts towards reviving and maintaining water bodies like wells, lakes and on repletion of groundwater,” he said.

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