Noida must consider other alternatives to Ganga water

Instead of bringing in Ganga water to dilute the hard groundwater, the city should make use of its potential for rainwater harvesting

By Sushmita Sengupta
Published: Monday 10 August 2015

Photo: Vikas Choudhary

Every day, the industrial hub of Noida uses 48 million litres of Ganga water to dilute hard groundwater, making it safe for residents to use. The water is diverted to Noida from a Ganga canal at Masuri-Dasna in Ghaziabad, another satellite town of Delhi, almost 22 kilometres away.

An analysis by M/s WAPCOS (Water & Power Consultancy Services (India) Ltd.), a Government of India undertaking consultancy, has found that for every 222 MLD (million litres per day) of groundwater extracted by the city, 84 MLD of Ganga water is required to make it usable.

The Noida authority celebrates this arrival of Ganga water into the city as a symbol of purity. But the huge cost of executing this project forces us to consider if these efforts by the authority are viable in the future.

With rapid expansion of residential areas, Noida is set to get more water from the Ganga and is building a new treatment plant at the cost of over Rs 200 crore. The authority will not only incur direct expenditure on infrastructure like pipes and water treatment, but will also have to pay Rs 60 crore to the irrigation department. The money will be used for lining work to restrict seepage loss so that farmers are not affected due to the diversion of water from the canal.

Noida’s draft master plan for 2021 says that by the end of 2021, the demand for water will be 553 MLD. To dilute this volume, 302 MLD of Ganga water will be required. This means Noida will need more than three times the amount of Ganga water it consumes today.

With an increase in the pollution level of the Ganga, the cost of water treatment will also rise.

Currently, whenever water supply from Masuri-Dasna is interrupted, Noida residents have to manage with hard groundwater. While the authority aims to provide an uninterrupted supply of Ganga water to solve the residents’ problem, one must question why Noida is considering only expensive methods of making its water usable.

Rainwater harvesting has also proven as a successful measure to improve the quality of groundwater. Vinay Deopujari, chief architect planner and urban designer at Noida authority, says that around 2,432 hectares of green areas in the city can harvest around 740 million cubic metres. This water can be used to recharge groundwater and improve its quality. Moving towards this decentralised solution will reduce the cost incurred on pipes drastically.

Noida’s future plan is to stop using groundwater and shift entirely to Ganga water for domestic purposes. It also plans to use treated wastewater for private lawns in residential areas as well as for industries and farmhouses.

The idea of using treated wastewater is a worthy one as the city will generate 288 MLD of wastewater in the near future according to the master plan for 2021. By 2031, sewage generation is expected to touch 414 MLD.

But why the city wants to stop using groundwater and invest in sourcing Ganga water from a distant place is hard to understand.

Noida has huge potential for rainwater harvesting. We have to understand that groundwater can be replenished. It only needs to put groundwater recharge systems in place so that annual extraction of groundwater can be controlled. Noida should also conserve its surface water bodies for city-level groundwater recharge. This will prove to be a more sustainable solution for Noida’s water problem.

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