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Chandigarh faces water crisis

This has been the worst water crisis for 46 years in the city.

Shruti Setia Chhabra  Chandigarh | 31st Aug 2013

Bhakra dam

handigarh has been facing a near drought situation in the last 10 days. This is because the supply lines from the Bhakra-Nangal have been rendered dysfunctional. This has been the worst water crisis for 46 years in the city. Students and those preparing for competitive examinations, who number around 1 lakh, staying in paying guest (PG) accommodations, have just 250 ml drinking water per day, since the crisis began. They are even asked to go back to their hometowns. Parents are not sending their children to school. Women are queuing up at beauty parlours for a head bath. Even temples saw a reduced number of devotees in Krishna temples for the morning ritual of abhishek — bathing the idol.

"We can't worry about just drinking water. Overhead tanks supplying water to kitchen, bathroom and toilet, do not get even a drop of water," said three paying guests living in a southern sector of the city. An owner of a PG accommodation said, "We don't have an underground water tank to collect water nor a pump to lift it to the top floor to fill overhead water tanks, for usage by paying guests."

A group of boys living in Mohali's Sector 69 had to buy a water tanker manage their daily needs such as taking a bath. Vicky of sector 33 said, "As there was no water at home, I had to bathe at the gym for the last few days." Feeling the pressure, one of the gyms brought t a tanker of water for Rs 3,000, four times the normal price.

Absence of a contingency plan to deal with the situation has left the city short of 62 million gallons every day. People living at above ground levels have been hit badly as there was no fresh water due to low water pressure in the taps. As a result, they had to rely on packaged drinking water.

According to official data, Chandigarh's water demand is 116 million gallon per day (MGD) and it gets a supply of 87 MGD, including 67 MGD from Kajauli, and rest from tube-wells. There is already a gap of 29 MGD in demand and supply.

The water crisis has now forced the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) and administration of the city to think of alternative water resources for Chandigarh. While the administration has suggested imposing additional charges for higher consumption of water, the elected body is in favour of regulating the use of tertiary water for car wash and gardening.

Chandigarh Mayor Subhash Chawla said, "The water consumption of residents especially living in northern sectors is extremely high (800 litres per person, per day). 10% of the underground plumbing is leaking, but we do not have the technology to repair this and have called on some foreign experts. Only source of water is Kajuli water works." The MCC claims to generate 20 MGD water per day from tube wells but according to sources the generation does not cross 12 MGD. The ground water level of Chandigarh, which can be used for drinking, has also gone down over the years.

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