Officials of Bidhannagar Municipality have blamed the Calcutta Municipal Corporation for the water crisis in the township, saying the city civic body is supplying less water than it is supposed to. The CMC has denied the charge.
Residents of several blocks — AA, AE, AL, BA, BJ, CB, DE and DK — are reeling under an acute water scarcity and have been forced to buy water from the municipality about thrice every week.
“The average daily water consumption in the township is 8.5 million gallons. But the CMC only supplies 4.5 million gallons,” said Swapan Maiti, the chief engineer of the water supply department of Bidhannagar Municipality. “We meet the rest of the demand through deep tubewells. There is, however, a serious shortage of groundwater and that is the reason behind the shortfall.”
| Work on the Tallah-Palta additional water main on BT Road that might be able to solve the water problem in Salt Lake. Picture by Anindya Shankar Ray
CMC officials refuted the claim, adding they supply less water only if there is an “emergency” in the city.
“We supply 13 million gallons of water per day to the Bidhannagar and South Dum Dum municipalities. The two civic bodies decide how to share the water. There is a shortfall in supply from our end only at times, when there’s a problem at one of our units. At such times, we cater to the needs of the city first and then supply water to Salt Lake,” said Bibhas Maity, the director-general of the CMC’s water supply division.
Bidhannagar Municipality chairperson Krishna Chakraborty refused to call the current scarcity a crisis and said those who were complaining of poor supply were “CPM supporters”.
“Such scarcity is common in Salt Lake during summer. The complaints have come from only a few individuals in some pockets of Salt Lake. Most of them are CPM supporters who are trying to malign the municipality,” Chakraborty said.
Trinamul boards control both civic bodies.
Salt Lake residents, however, are fuming at having to wait for water tankers in the sweltering summer. Some even accused the municipality of controlling the flow of water to raise money through water sale.
“Every week, I have had to buy two large tankers of water at Rs 400 per tanker. I wonder whether the authorities are sitting on the complaints and refusing to solve the crisis just in order to boost the water sale,” said Debasis Das, a resident of BJ block.
About 100 residents recently met the municipality chairperson to complain about the water problem.
Sources in the municipality’s water supply department said the problem had worsened because the pipelines had not been cleaned in years, resulting in a thick layer of rust choking the water flow.
“The municipality is supposed to clean the pipelines each winter to free them of rust. But it never happens in practice,” said a senior official of the department.
The official added that the absence of a distribution network map showing the underground pipelines in the township is a hindrance to a thorough clean-up job.
“We only conduct a ‘backwash’ of the pipelines after a specific complaint. However, such haphazard clean-ups clog the ferrules and worsen the water supply, angering residents further,” said the official.
The municipality had approached the CMC for more water, but the corporation refused. “They asked us for more water but we cannot provide the additional service now. We can only give them an additional 7 million gallons per day by next year, after the Tallah-Palta additional water main on BT Road is ready for service,” said Maity.