Ahmedabad's Narmada water supply scheme not working out

Published: Tuesday 15 May 2007

the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (amc) has stepped up measures to rope in citizens to use its 'unique' water supply scheme. But the scheme has few takers. amc is offering discounts on the connection fee by as much as 70 per cent. It started offering connections in January and although it managed to sell 850 applications, according to local media reports, only 53 confirmations had come through until mid-March.

The original connection charges ranged between Rs 1,300 and Rs 12,000 per household, depending upon the area. amc has also made it compulsory for new buildings to take the water connection.

The scheme is unique because source of water is the Narmada river, which is being diverted from the Sardar Sarovar Dam. Traditional water sources for Ahmedabad are the Sabarmati river and individual bore wells in peripheral areas. According to Saswat Bandhopadhyaya, professor with the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad, the quality of water being supplied is very poor. "Due to high dependence on ground water, the table has been falling fast. The shallow aquifer of Ahmedabad is completely polluted. The water supplied has high levels of total dissolved solids (tds). Traces of heavy metals have also been observed," says Bandhopadhyaya.

Despite these problems, he says that the scheme hasn't picked up steam due to lack of community involvement. "The government did not bother to get public's feedback. They just assumed that people would jump at the prospect of getting Narmada water. According to the scheme, water will be supplied for two hours, which means huge storage tanks. This will be a problem", he adds.

Residents have, over the years, invested in their own alternate water supply systems. Some apartments have centralised reverse osmosis systems, which supply high-quality water. "Such people do not feel the need to switch, especially with the high cost involved," says Srinivas Mudarkartha, director of Viksat, an ngo.

The total cost of the water supply project is Rs 196 crore. amc is also undertaking a 'water testing drive' to determine the level of tds in bore wells of various localities. The results will be shared among the public to make a case for switching over to Narmada water.

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