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Why water may become an issue for Pune this Lok Sabha election

As the dam levels sink, residents stare at water cuts with the irrigation department and the PMC refusing to see eye-to-eye over drawing of water from dams. The Indian Express explains the current scenario

PMC draws 1,350 MLD water from the Khadakwasla Dam. (Express file)

THE water issue, which has been raging for quite some time, is likely to become a major one during the Lok Sabha elections with political parties, especially BJP’s rivals, set to ratchet it up to influence the voters. As the dam levels sink, residents stare at water cuts with the irrigation department and the PMC refusing to see eye-to-eye over drawing of water from dams. The Indian Express explains the current scenario

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) draws 1,350 million litre per day (MLD) from Khadakwasla Dam. The city gets supply from Panshet, Varasgaon, Temghar and Khadakwasla dams. Earlier, water used to be drawn through open canal but now it is done through pipeline from the dam.

Rising population

The increasing population in the city is putting stress on the water supply system. The population of the city was 31 lakh in the previous census and based on that, the civic body has been directed by the Maharashtra Water Resource Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) to draw only 892 MLD. However, in this tussle for water, the state irrigation department twice switched off the power of the motor of the PMC that lifts and draws water for the city. In response to an appeal by the PMC, the MWRRA has asked the PMC to submit a fresh proposal for water need to meet the demand.

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According to the PMC, it has put the city’s population at 52 lakh that includes the floating population of education and industrial sector. The civic body is all set to justify the need of 1,350 MLD consumption.

Water loss

Water loss due to leakage in the supply system of the PMC is estimated to be 40 per cent. It is to reduce the leakage that the PMC has laid pipeline from the dam to its water purification centre. It has laid two pipelines from Khadakwasla dam to Parvati purification centre. It recently completed the pipeline work till the purification centre in Pune Cantonment while claiming that it was saving 100 MLD from that but the irrigation department has been rejecting the claims. Further, the PMC, to plug the leakage, has undertaken a project to revamp its entire water supply system and ensure uninterrupted supply to the residents at an extra cost.

Water theft

The irrigation department has been supplying water for irrigation purpose through the open canal that passes through the city and serves the need of agriculture in Haveli, Indapur and Baramati talukas. The system leads to loss in water through leakage in canal, theft of water allegedly for irrigation, construction, washing centre and drinking purposes by some people. In many villages alongside the canal, water is drawn illegally but the irrigation department has failed to bring a check on it and putting it in the name of PMC. Thus, the proposal of constructing 28-km tunnel has been submitted to the state government. This will enable the irrigation department to make the land of the canal available for some other development work and is estimated to raise Rs 20,000 crore.

Recycling of water

The irrigation department has made the PMC spend a lot of money to recycle sewage water so as to use it for irrigation purposes. But the irrigation department has not been able to make optimum use of it and has not been able to repair the canal. It has been blaming the PMC for the poor condition of canal due to encroachments and being unable to check illegal practices on irrigation land. The PMC has also made it mandatory for large residential structures to recycle sewage water.

Steps to check shortage

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The PMC has banned operations of all swimming pool within the city limits to save water. It has also directed closure of washing centres running on PMC supplied water. The construction industry has been asked not to use water meant for drinking purposes for its work while deciding not to undertake new construction of concrete roads. Civic gardens have been asked to use recycled sewage water for gardening. However, this step is routine during water crisis. It has never been strictly implemented.

First published on: 28-01-2019 at 08:16:18 am
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