Judicious use of water can only save people from scarcity this summer with twin factors threatening to snap lifeline.
Experts feel the decade’s lowest rainfall last monsoon and the government’s indifferent attitude in implementing key schemes will hit the residents hard.
One of the environmentalists claimed that the groundwater level in the city might witness a bit of plunge this summer because of the deficient rainfall. “Though any exact assessment of the impact of record deficient rainfall in last monsoon on the groundwater table cannot be made as of now but I believe that the level might dip further at those places in the city, where it is already comparatively low. This is basically because of the minimal recharge of groundwater table last year and its excessive extraction by tubewells and hand-pumps,” said Ashok Ghosh, professor-in-charge, department of environment and water management, AN College.
If Ghosh’s claims prove to be true, then residents of areas, including the entire Patna City, Kadamkuan, Bazaar Samiti, Rajendra Nagar and Gardanibagh among others, would have to struggle a lot this summer to quench their thirst.
It is in such critical conditions that Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM)-funded water supply scheme could be a major respite. The project, being executed with an estimated outlay of Rs 548.83 crore, could have reduced the extraction of groundwater in the city by at least half than the present rate of extraction.
Introducing the concept of supply of surface water to households for the first time in the city, the project envisages supplying treated Ganga water at the rate of 220 million litres per day to half of the city on north of Delhi-Howrah railway tracks for 22 hours a day.
While progress in the new water supply project is discouraging, the nearly 60 years old existing water supply network of the city is almost defunct and insufficient to cater to the potable water needs of the residents.
As per estimates, 52 per cent of the population of Patna at present is dependent on municipal water supply and the rest source it privately from tubewells and borewells.
Under the existing municipal water supply system in the city, tubewells pump water directly to distribution centres.
The distribution hubs include 23 overhead tanks. Of them, only four are in use. The rest are not in use because of leak. Defunct overhead tanks apart, the condition of municipal water supply pipeline is also quite bad.
Of the entire length of approximately 750km of pipelines, several parts are damaged and they are crying for repair.
Damaged pipelines not only lead to supply of contaminated water to the houses but they also leading to excessive pressure on the groundwater table as well.
“The three water towers in Patna City became completely defunct in the past decade due to which pump houses sprouted in the past few years. Pump houses apart, people have installed private water pumps in their houses,” said Dinesh Kumar, a resident of the Patna Sahib station area.
Patna Municipal Corporation has also failed to install two hand pumps in each ward as promised in the budget of the previous year.