Buzz about saving water begins

Experts Urge PMC To Take Steps In Time Of Plenty
Bid goodbye to water cuts, at least till next monsoon, as four dams supplying water to the city are overflowing. Also, dams in the region, including Ujani ­ the biggest reservoir in western Maharashtra, are full to the brim.However, experts said, the euphoria over good monsoon should not drown water conservation efforts. “This is the time for the civic body to take efforts to put its house in order to face water crisis that may arise in the future,“ they said.

“Pune will receive its full quota of water from dams. Unlike last year, there is no need for any water cuts this year around. The civic body is in a position to continue regular water supply till the arrival of monsoon next year,“ said Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) water department head V G Kulkarni. Though the city will not face water crisis, it doesn’t mean that water must be used recklessly , he added.

“For last eleven months, we have faced water crisis which would have escalated if the rains were delayed. It is our responsibility to ensure that every drop of water is used judiciously ,“ he said. PMC had announced water cuts in the first week of September last year as the four city dams were just half-full due to the poor monsoon. In September last year, all four dams had 15.58 TMC of storage that is about 54.40% of their total capacity.After 11 months, the civic body had revoked water cuts in August this year.

The city gets water from Temghar, Varasgaon, Panshet and Khadakwasla. “The irrigation department keeps aside 11.5 TMC quota for Pune city .However for last many years, PMC has been lifting 14 TMC water from the reservoirs of the four dams. The city faces water crisis because of distribution losses and water mismanagement. We have requested PMC to complete its pipeline repair works and take steps to reduce wastage of water,“ said an irrigation department official.

Every year, water is reserved in the dams to last till July 15. “However, going by the experiences of the past two years, the civic body must put mechanism in place to reserve extra water, which will come handy in case the monsoon is delayed, experts said. “Dams full to their capacities is a good news. But PMC must realise that this is the time to put its house in order. Whenever there is crisis, the authorities run for temporary solutions.However, now is the time to look for sustainable solutions. The city must take steps to conserve water,“ said Parineeta Dandekar of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP). PMC must focus its attention to complete all Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) and plug water leakages, she added.

PMC’s Environment Status Report (ESR) highlights that more than half the city’s water distribution pipelines, installed nearly 40 years ago, are old and rusted and in need of immediate replacement. A study by researchers from the Mumbai-based S K Somaiya College, commissioned by the PMC, states that almost 30-40% of Pune’s drinking water is lost to leakage, pilferage and wastage. Moreover, not all parts of the city receive equal water. The study suggests a drinking water supply management system to resolve the issue of unequal distribution in the city , given the wastage.

Last year during crisis, PMC was banking on Bhama Askhed and Mulshi dams for additional water. But the state was keen to release water from dams in Pune district to Ujani.

Ujani dam gets water from the Bhima river, originating from Karjat. But there are about 22 small and big dams between the river source and the dam.This year, Ujani has a storage of 51.46 TMC that is about 96.05 TMC and hence it will not require release of water from dams in Pune district.

TIMES VIEW

The monsoon has been good this year and the dams that supply water to the city are full.However, Pune Municipal Corporation and the irrigation department must prepare a meticulous plan to ensure that the city does not suffer the same water crises during summer as it did earlier this year. The monsoon’s erratic nature has caused delays in its arrival in the last few years.Hence, water has to be available till the end of July every year. Curbing wastage of water, replacing old rusted pipelines that leak and preventing thefts or diversion to irrigate cash crops like sugarcane must be top priority.Rainwater harvesting and water conservation programmes must be promoted because the city’s population is growing and as of now, there is no other source of water other than the four dams.

Source : TOI

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