From next week, the city can expect an improvement in its water supply, with Palta pumping in an extra 40 million gallons every day. “The supply will be uninterrupted and the pressure steady,” was the assurance from mayor-in-council (water supply) member Sovan Chatterjee.
Terming the current crisis in some pockets as “temporary”, Chatterjee said two 20-million-gallon treatment plants at the Palta waterworks were ready to be commissioned. Besides, repairs of the 62-inch water mains between Panihati telephone exchange and Barrackpore had been completed on Monday, the mayoral council member pointed out. As a result, the daily supply of filtered water is expected to be boosted by 15 million gallons.
Chatterjee admitted that the supply situation had received a setback about a month ago, after a pump at the Auckland station became inoperative from February 6. Another deep tubewell at Ballygunge Circular Road had to be shut down because of a technical snag. “Both problems have been rectified,” he added.
But a section of senior engineers in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) did not share Chatterjee’s optimism. They pointed out that despite the commissioning of the Garfa booster pumping station, highrises and housing complexes were drawing water from the CMC distribution lines, resulting in short supply in south Calcutta.
These powerful pumps of the new housing estates were to blame for the crisis suffered by the city, they added.
“The CMC is now more interested in selling filtered water in bulk to the housing estates than in ensuring an uninterrupted supply at a steady pressure through ferrules to households,” alleged borough chairman Ruby Dutta.
The civic water supply department charges Rs 5 per 1,000 litres of filtered water for domestic bulk supply and Rs 10 for commercial connections.
Since bulk supply is delivered directly from the water mains, it affects pressure in household supply in the adjacent areas, explain engineers in the CMC’s water supply department. Besides, they mention, there are more than 20,000 roadside taps in the city, which cause a drain in household supply.
Water pressure will improve to a great extent if the number of roadside taps was cut to less than 10,000, said the engineers. “We are preparing a record of such taps in the city. We have decided that such taps will be allowed only in the slum areas and pockets inhabited by lower middle-class people,” asserted mayoral council member Chatterjee.