'In 3 years, 24/7 Water Supply will be a Reality'


Mumbai, Nov 1: Come 2011 and Mumbaikars will no longer need to store water. The BMC says it is awaiting the completion of the Middle Vaitarna dam project to ensure uninterrupted water supply to the city. The project will augment the city's water supply from the present 3,400 million litres daily to 3,800 million litres daily.

There are four stages to achieve 24x7 water supply for the city. These include a water audit to know the quantum of unaccounted for water, meaning water lost due to leakages and pilferage. With only 50% of waters meters in working condition and none in the island city, the BMC cannot dream of providing water at all hours. Working meters are essential to ensure there is no wastage of water.

"The water meter tender process has been completed and will be put up before the standing committee on Saturday," said Anil Diggikar, additional municipal commissioner in-charge of the water supply project.

The BMC is also planning a Ground Penetration Radar System to detect leakages in its water supply network and a Geographic Information System so that it knows the exact location of every water pipe. "All this is taking time, but by 2011 we will make 24x7 water a reality," said Diggiikar.

However, in Latur, CM Vilasrao Deshmukh's district and in Nagpur, the state's second capital, 24x7 water supply projects are already underway.

In July, Latur adopted a 10-year concession model to implement its $9 million 24x7 water supply scheme in its urban areas through which the existing network will be upgraded. The private parties involved in the scheme include UPL Environmental Engineers Ltd, Hydro-Compe Enterprises, Cyprus and Subhash Projects and Marketing Ltd.

The project is likely to receive 80% of its funding under the Central Urban Infrastructure Development for Small and Medium Towns. The state government will provide 10% and the local body the balance 10%. Nagpur recently received approval from the state's technical committee for its Rs 400 crore 24x7 water supply scheme. "We did a pilot project and decided to go ahead with the scheme," said Aseem Gupta, commissioner of Nagpur Municipal Corporation.

Gupta said they would appoint a private body to set up the infrastructure, maintain it as well as supply water. "The water tariff will, however, be decided by the corporation. The private company will be responsible for the collection of bills and payment will start only after it has collected 70% of the bills," said Gupta.

The money will be placed in an escrow account and the company will be paid on the basis of the quantity of water supplied. The corporation has issued tenders inviting bids for supplying water. "The company that offers the lowest rates per 1,000 litres will be awarded the contract," he added.

The water tariff, Gupta said, would be linked to the electricity tariff. "Almost 40-60% of the water supply expenditure is due to electricity and payments to the irrigation department. It is in public interest to ensure that electricity is efficiently used as water tariff will go up if the power tariff goes up," said Gupta.

"We will implement it in phases, dividing the city into district metering areas, replacing pipes to eliminate leakages and pilferage, ensuring every connection is metered. For the entire city, 24x7 will be a reality in two years."


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