Poor Drinking water in the Punjab
Punjab ranks 2nd Last in rural Drinking Water
Residents buying drinking water; MC denies shortage Perneet Singh Tribune News Service
Women queue up for procuring drinking water from a water tanker at Deep Nagar in Bathinda. — Tribune photo by Kulbir Beera
Bathinda, May 25 Even as the summers have just started, residents of some localities are compelled to buy drinking water due to a water crisis that is worsening with time. However, the municipal council authorities deny that people are buying water due to its insufficiency.
Surprisingly, about one fourth localities in Bathinda don’t even have pipelines for the water supply. The municipal council is catering to these localities with only six tankers, of which four have been hired on contract. Residents of various localities are compelled to buy drinking water at the rate of Rs 25 for 20 litres of water, while some firms are also selling water at lower rates. A couple of companies are cashing in on the water crisis and are selling canal water after “purifying” it in their own way. Mr Baldev Sharma, a resident of Green Avenue Colony, said, “There is nearly no water supply to our colony for the past one week. It was supplied late in the night a couple of times and a majority of the residents had no clue about it. I have been buying drinking water for the past one week.”
The city’s uneven topography has also led to the water crisis in some areas. The worst-affected areas are those around Qila Mubarak as these are located at a height which results into low water pressure in Sidhiawala, Pujawala and a few other localities. The residents of these areas are having sleepless nights, as the municipal council is supplying water to these areas in the wee hours. The municipal council reasons that during those hours no other area is supplied water and it helps in increasing the water pressure. Other areas facing the water crisis are Pratap Nagar, Kartar Basti, Bharat Nagar, Harbans Nagar, Lal Singh Basti, and Parasram Nagar. Sources said the ground water in these areas was also not fit for human consumption.
The sources said the water supply at present was 5.5 MG as against the total demand of 7 MG water. When there is a gap of almost 20 per cent in demand and supply of water at the onset of summers, one can imagine the scenario in the coming days. The sources said the Water and Sewerage Board was already working on a Rs 24-crore Hudco project for water supply in the city. In the next phase of the project, pipelines are to be laid and replaced in various localities.
The sources said the municipal council also planned to take over the water plant of the PSIC Growth Centre on Mansa Road as the plant having a capacity of 1.5 MG could well bridge the demand and supply gap. The sources said after initial hiccups, the PSIC had now agreed in principle to hand over its water plant to the municipal council. The terms and conditions for this plan were yet to be finalised. The municipal council would also lay a 24-inch pipeline for water supply to the city. The project was likely to take over six months and would hardly be of any help this summer.
The Commissioner of the municipal council, Mr Ranjit Singh, admitted that there may be some water crisis in some localities, which was normal during the summers. He denied any knowledge of people buying drinking water in the town. He said there was no drastic shortage of water. Four tankers had been pressed into service and he had also asked the officials concerned to ensure proper chlorination of water.
By Tribune News Service
One of the richest states in the country, Punjab ranks among states in the number of habitations in rural areas that are without sustainable and stipulated drinking water supply.
With 906 non-covered (NC) habitations, Punjab is second to Rajasthan, where 2,785 habitations have the NC status out of the total 5,388 habitations in the country that still have people living without sustainable and stipulated drinking water supply.
Schoolchildren drinking contaminated water at one of the senior secondary schools of Punjab.
The report on the coverage plan is based on comprehensive action plan (CAP)-1999, it says that while considerable success has been achieved in meeting the drinking water needs of the rural population and 95.34 per cent rural habitations are fully covered (FC) with stipulated level drinking water facilities, still 4.28 per cent habitations in the country remain partially-covered (PC) and 0.38 per cent not covered (NC).
A substantial percentage of this 0.38 per cent NC habitations in the country, is in Punjab. These habitations which are yet to be covered with the stipulated norms of coverage of 40 lpcd with a source within 1.6 km. Punjab also has as many as 1198, of the total 60,884 PC habitations in the country.
Discussions on drinking water supply in rural areas are the main agenda items of the conference of state secretaries on “Rural drinking water supply and total sanitation campaign programme” to be held in the Capital tomorrow.
As per the Tenth Plan, all habitations of CAP-1999 were to be covered by March 31,2004.
As per the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (ARWSP) guidelines, all state governments are expected to provide and release the matching share to implementing agencies within a period of 15 days of receipt of the central share for rural drinking and sanitation sectors.