Subernarekha supplies 75 million gallons of water to Tata Steel every day. (Bhola Prasad)
The mercury already hovering in the region of 37°C, Jharkhand’s water mandarins are squeezing every resource to float a lifeline for thirsty residents.
The Ground Water Directorate of the state on Thursday rushed a letter to Tata Sons chairman Cyrus P. Mistry, requesting him to impress upon Tata Steel authorities in the city to present their water recharge plans.
Submission of such plans by an industry is mandatory under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974. According to Sections 25 and 26 of the act, any industry that uses surface water of a state has to present recharge details. The act also stipulates that an industry has to annually replenish two per cent of surface water it uses every day.
The SOS to Mistry comes in the wake of three earlier missives from the directorate to the steel major, between 2011 and 2012, allegedly remaining unanswered.
Director of Ground Water Directorate S.L.S Jageshwar said he had been writing “constantly” to Tata Steel managing director H.M. Nerurkar in the light of the company’s expansion plans, but none of his letters had been replied to.
“I have sent three letters between 2011 and 2012. So far none has been answered. Tata Steel, according to our records, uses 75 million gallons of water from Subernarekha river every day for its 7MT steel unit. According to the act, it has to recharge nearly 547.5 million gallons annually,” Jageshwar said.
Tata Steel’s head of corporate affairs and communication Prabhat Sharma conceded that the company had completed proposed expansion and would take its production to nearly 10MT annually, but denied charges levelled by the directorate.
“Our MD’s office has sent a reply to the director’s letter on July 12, 2012. We have water recharge infrastructure at our plant and in the township too,” Sharma said.
The Ground Water Directorate, however, reiterated that it had not received any reply from the steel major. “I have sifted through my office records and no letters have come from Tata Steel so far. If it claims to have sent letters, it should show the copy of receipt,” Jageshwar said.
He hoped that the missive to Mistry would prod the company into furnishing details of water recharge plans as sought. “I hope that the Tata Sons chairman will help us. The recharge plan assumes significance in the wake of the plunging water table in the city and its outskirts,” he added.
How can the water table be raised in the city?