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Water crisis looms on south

Water supply to nearly 2 million south Calcutta residents may be cut off any moment because a pump at the Garden Reach waterworks that broke down two months ago is yet to be repaired, according to the civic chief engineer (water supply).

Another pump broke down last week, increasing the chance of taps going dry.

Chief engineer Bibhas Maity submitted a report on the water supply disruption threat to municipal commissioner Arnab Roy on Monday afternoon, said civic sources. Roy apprised mayor Sovan Chatterjee of the situation on Monday night.

“Of the three new pumps, one stopped working two months back and no step was taken to repair it. In the meantime, another new pump has gone out of order on 25.11.2010. Now only two old intake pumps and one new intake pump are in operation. In such a situation, water supply in the distribution network of Garden Reach Waterworks can become uncertain at any moment,” reads the report, according to a source.

The report follows a meeting of the CMDA, CMC and CMWSA (Calcutta Metropolitan Water and Sanitation Authority) officials on water supply at Unnayan Bhavan in Salt Lake on Tuesday.

“I have called a meeting on Wednesday regarding the Garden Reach waterworks. I hope that if there is a problem, it will be sorted out,” municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya said.

Two new pumps and one old pump draw water from the Hooghly for filtration at the Garden Reach waterworks. A new pump and an old pump are kept on standby.

“With two new pumps out of action, there is no back-up at the moment,” said a senior engineer of the CMWSA, the state government wing that runs the waterworks.

But why wasn’t the pump repaired in two months?

“It takes time to receive administrative approval. Also, when we contacted the manufacturer of the new pumps in Pune, they told us that it would not be possible for them to send maintenance engineers to Calcutta before two weeks,” said the engineer.

The performance record of the two old pumps is “not satisfactory” and they may “stop working any moment”.

Large parts of south Calcutta remained parched during Durga Puja and on Lakshmi Puja because of malfunctioning of pumps at the Garden Reach waterworks.

The facility is one of the two that supply filtered surface water to Calcuttans. Over 70 per cent of the city’s water supply comes from the Tallah-Palta network of the CMC and the rest from the Garden Reach waterworks.

The southern stretches from Bhowanipore to Jadavpur and in Santoshpur, Garia, Tollygunge, Behala and Garden Reach are under the command area of the Garden Reach waterworks.

The distribution network in the far south is under the civic body’s control.

Any disorder at Garden Reach translates into a shortfall of more than 60 million gallons of treated water for the civic body.

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