Increasing population, obsolete machinery and imbalance in consumption has left Chandigarh reeling under water scarcity. Since 2015, it is being promised that the city will be receiving the additional 29 million gallons daily (MGD) of water. With Lok Sabha elections round the corner, the Municipal Corporation has been claiming that the work of phase V and phase VI pipelines has completed and the water will be received soon.
The onset of summer means the beginning of the water woes, say residents. This additional water will not be sufficient if the imbalance is not checked.
Skewed consumption of water in various sectors is a key reason of water scarcity. A study conducted by public health wing of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation in 2013 had found that residents of northern sectors were using over 1,000 litre of water per person per day against the national norm of 135 litre per person per day. The officials had found that all the posh sectors used between 934 litre to 1,376 litre of water, per person, per day.
Residents of Sectors like 2,3,4,5 and 9, were drawing more than 1,000 litre per person per day. The reason was found to be the size of houses which was 1 kanal or more in these sectors and drinking water used for irrigation of lawns leading to wastage of water.The consumption of water in southern sectors was far less. The consumption of water in Sector 56 was 138 litre per person per day.
How water reaches Chandigarh
At present, the UT gets 85 million gallons daily (MGD). Of this, about 58 MGD comes from 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 116 MGD and a gap in demand and supply arises. In winters the demand doesn’t go beyond 85-90 MGD.
For water to reach Chandigarh from Kajauli waterworks, set up in Kajauli village, 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 I, II and IV is maintained by Punjab while Phase III is maintained by 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 at Sector 56, 57, 64 and Phase 10, two reservoirs of one lakh gallons capacity each at Sector 70 and 71 and one reservoir of five lakh gallon capacity at Phase VII.
What about additional water?
Chandigarh is to get 29 MGD additional from new phases V and VI. The UT Administration has set a deadline of April 30 for the completion of the work. The work for laying two phases – V and VI – is said to be nearing completion. Land was acquired at Jandpur in Mohali for setting up of water treatment plant.
The project of laying the 23.5-km-long Phase V and VI pipeline from Kajauli waterworks to Jandpur was launched in March 2012. Since 2015, it is being claimed by Chandigarh MC that water would be reaching next summers. But deadlines have already been missed and a new one set.
In 1983, an agreement was signed between Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana, wherein it was decided that the water from Bhakra through the Kajauli waterworks will be supplied to Mohali, Chandigarh, Chandimandir and Panchkula.
Colony areas have complained of getting contaminated water. Tanks which store water are not cleaned for years.
As many as 40,000 people in the EWS colony of Dhanas are still consuming contaminated water for the past many months. The situation has left many of them suffering with stomach infection and skin problems.
This similar situation is prevalent in sector 52 as well.This is the state of water in city which ranked second in the country by Niti Aayog in India’s Index for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) among all the states and Union Territories this year. It had topped the UTs with an index score of 68, according to the Government of India.
Chandigarh, ‘ a smart city’, had scored perfect 100 in clean water and sanitation. The report had stated, “Among the UTs, Chandigarh takes the lead because of its exemplary performance in providing clean water and sanitation to its people.” But the situation is starkly different on the ground.