Water

Shimla, Udupi and Mangaluru: India’s soon-to-be Cape Towns

There is an acute water crisis in these three Tier 2 towns, mostly due to overuse

 
By Rashmi Verma
Last Updated: Friday 28 June 2019
The Ridge in Shimla, filled with tourists and regular townsfolk. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The Ridge in Shimla, filled with tourists and regular townsfolk. Photo: Wikimedia Commons The Ridge in Shimla, filled with tourists and regular townsfolk. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Shimla in North India and Udupi and Mangaluru in coastal Karnataka are on the verge of becoming Tier 2 cities which would have a ‘Day Zero’ situation soon.

Its image as a tourist hub located in the Himalayan foothills is the reason as to why Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh, is facing a water crisis.

Shimla, which has a population of 0.17 million, gets approximately 10,000 visitors daily during the peak tourist season in summer.

According to media reports, at the time of the peak tourist season, the demand for water rises to 45 million litres per day (MLD). However, due to low precipitation, Shimla has reserves of only 18 to 27 MLD.

There are seven surface water sources in Shimla which are supposed to supply around 54 MLD. But the hill town is facing a huge demand-supply gap.

According to The Egyptian Journal of Remote Sensing and Space Sciences published in 2015, the demand-supply gap on Shimla which was eight MLD in 2013, will increase by five times in 2031 and 12 times in 2051.

In May 2019, the Himachal Pradesh High Court ordered the Shimla Municipal Corporation not to supply water tankers, not just to common citizens but also VVIPs.

The court also directed the corporation to stop any construction in the town and even ordered a ban on car washing. The Army was ordered to divert water from institutes having large reservoir capacities.

Udupi and Mangaluru

Down south, Udupi in coastal Karnataka, had been facing unprecedented water scarcity this year.

In early May, schools were forced to function only for the first half as there was no drinking water.

Some schools had to postpone their reopening for the new academic year and summer vacations were extended for a week. Additionally, mid-day meals have been stopped in over 100 schools in the Karkala taluk of Udupi district. 

The Swarna river and the Baje dam built across it are the main source of water for the district. The dam reached the ‘dead storage’ limit this year.

Dead storage refers to water in a reservoir that cannot be drained by gravity and has to be pumped out. The city has been divided into six zones and drinking water from the Swarna is at present being supplied once in six days to each one of these zones in turns.

The Udupi district administration also supplies water through tankers to all the 35 municipal wards. Around 121 villages are also covered with the help of 141 tankers to meet water demand. Water was even being supplied through private bore wells to water-scarce areas. 

The Udupi City Municipal Council floated tenders in May 2019 to remove silt from the Swarna just behind the Baje dam to overcome water scarcity. A similar action was taken eight years back.

Removing silt from the Baje dam was essential. However, after good rains, the situation has improved and the inflow into the dam has increased since June 17, 2019.

How much water Udupi has

Udupi District

Unit

Year

 

 

2016

2031

2046

Available water storage capacity in Baje Barrage

Million Cubic Metre (MCM)

1.890

1.890

1.890

Available water storage capacity in Shiroor Mutt Barrage

MCM

0.734

0.734

0.734

Water storage capacity (after evaporation loss)

MCM

2.099

2.099

2.099

Water supply rate

MLD

20.780

20.780

20.780

Water demand

MLD

37.370

44.990

54.710

Supply Demand Gap

MLD

16.58

24.21

33.93

The Mangaluru City Corporation has gone for water rationing since April to deal with the water crisis in the city.

A vented dam was built across the city’s Netravati river at Thumbe in 1993 to ensure an adequate and continuous supply of water throughout the year. Another dam 50 metres downstream of the vented dam was constructed and commissioned in 2016 to meet the future water supply needs of Mangalore

But this year, with no inflow into the Netravati, the corporation had to take the hard decision of water rationing.

Due to a lack of water supply, tankers are flourishing in Mangaluru. According to media reports, small, private water tankers have been supplying water twice a day in Mangaluru for Rs 1,600. The water supplied was muddy and had to be filtered.

How much water Mangaluru has

Mangalore District

Unit

Year

 

 

2016

2031

2046

Net water availability

 

MCM

23.184

23.184

23.184

Water demand

MLD

137.39

180.01

236.60

Source: Subproject Appraisal Report (SAR), 24x7 Water Supply in Mangalore, KIUWMIP, January 2018

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