Calcutta reels under water shortage : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Thursday 13 April 2000 Calcutta reels under water shortage By Somshankar Bandyopadhyay

CALCUTTA: As temperatures soar in Calcutta, the heat is telling in more ways than one. Combined with frequent power cuts is the regular shortfall in water supply, leaving the city parched. According to experts, chances of the situation improving soon are remote.

The city and its suburbs require 330 million gallons of water per day (MGD). However, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation's water supply falls woefully short.

Palta Water Works, built in the 1860s, currently supplies about 180 MGD. While the Garden Reach Water Works, built in the 1970s, supplies 60 MGD to pockets of south Calcutta. The rest of the city's demand is met by deep tubewells, mostly located in Jadavpur and the south-eastern fringes of Calcutta.

The city's water supply systems, most of which were built during the 1870s, have developed cracks at several places, leading to a loss of 30 per cent of the water supplied every day. This results in water reaching the city at very low pressure, which has necessitated the installation of several booster pumping stations all over the city.

"Research by the water resources engineering department of Jadavpur University indicates that it is possible to increase the capacity at Palta station by 30 MGD through rational use of filter beds already in operation, without any additional investment," said Ranabir Choudhuri, former chief municipal engineer (water supply) of CMC.

But even then, water supply remains short of demand. To meet demand, the CMC recently made it mandatory for new high-rises to have a deep tubewell. But this has other repercussions. Heavy dependence on deep tubewells has caused sinking of the ground level at many areas in Jadavpur.

Officials, however, are satisfied with the way things are. "The capacity at Palta will be increased in phases to 260 MGD and that of Garden Reach to 120 MGD by 2005," said member, mayor-in-council (water supply) Archana Bhattacharya.

"The Mohammad Ali Park boosting station has yielded good results. We have two more stations coming up, at Park Circus and Bagmari, which will help augment water supply," said mayor Prasanta Chatterjee.

This is after the first stage of augmentation of the PWW's capacity was completed in 1997, which added another 20 MGD to the original 160 MGD put in place by the British. But there is no guarantee as to when this would be complete.

Another project which is expected to help the city's water supply system is to be funded by the World Bank. This will look at augment the existing system, renovate and repair the existing water supply mains. But this project is still in its infancy. A consultant firm, Weston International, has been finalised to conduct a feasibility study. Till that happens, Calcuttans shall have nothing to do but to use their existing supply more rationally.

-- Martin Thompson (, April 13, 2000


More on India water problem.

Friday 14 April 2000

Water crisis hits Mount Abu The Times of India News Service

MOUNT ABU: The drought that has engulfed much of Rajasthan and Gujarat has affected normal life in this hill resort as well.

Although tourists are thronging this hill resort to escape the scorching heat of the plains, local residents are all too aware of the acute scarcity of water.

According to civic sources, a strategy has been devised to supply water on alternate days until July 15. The Nakki Lake and lower Kodra dam are at present supplying three lakh gallons of water every day. The town has been divided into two zones for this purpose.

Those who cannot make do with this amount of water have no option but to resort to water tankers, which is not easy in a hill station.

Although the streets are bustling with the usual colour and activity seen during summer, Nakki Lake is quiet and calm, as it recedes further. The boats that could generally be seen dotting the lake during this holiday season are conspicuously absent.

But the drought has given an oppotunity to the municipality a chance to desilt and clean up the lake.

Hotels are just about coping with the tourists. Some are fortunate enough to have their own borewells. Private schools have held discussions about closing schools for an extra month in summer because of the water shortage. However, a final decision on this issue is yet to be taken.

The worst impact of the water crunch is perhaps to be seen on the winding drive uphill to Mount Abu. The hillsides are dry and not a speck of green is visible, which is perhaps cause for concern to the forest department, as these hills are ravaged by fires during the summer

-- Martin Thompson (, April 13, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ