Indore's Water Supply Needs Are The Costliest; Here Is How Food Capital Of The Country Is Battling Water Crisis

Indore's Water Supply Needs Are The Costliest; Here Is How Food Capital Of The Country Is Battling Water Crisis

The supplier – Indore Municipal Corporation – is currently working on two fronts to not only meet futuristic water demand of ever-expanding city but also to make the supply network cost-effective.

Anand Shivre Nidhi Devliya Aman SharmaUpdated: Monday, April 22, 2024, 03:22 PM IST
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As thousands of gallons of water went waste at Khargone after a burst in water supply line from Jalud pumping station, taps went dry in three-fourth area of Indore. All this happened in the last week of February. The crisis continued for at least three days forcing people to turn to tankers to meet their daily water needs. Free Press team of Anand Shivre, Nidhi Devliya and Aman Sharma decided to delve into the crisis and find about various plans afoot to beat Indore’s water woes

Indore water supply needs are the costliest in the country. The supplier – Indore Municipal Corporation – is currently working on two fronts to not only meet futuristic water demand of ever-expanding city but also to make the supply network cost-effective.

First plan aims at enhancing water supply capacity from existing 450 MLD to 900 MLD under Narmada Project. The second plan, a bit ambitious, aims to develop an alternative and cost-effective water supply network.

While IMC Mayor-in-Council (MIC) had last year cleared Narmada Phase 4 to enhance water supply capacity to 900 MLD, survey to develop alternative and parallel supply network would begin soon after General Elections 2024.

“Against current need of 450 MLD, water supplied to city from three main sources stands at —406 MLD from Narmada project (Phase 1, 2 & 3), 30 MLD from Yashwant Sagar and 20 MLD from groundwater,” said Superintending Engineer of Narmada Project Sanjeev Srivastava.

He further said, “However, city's needs remain unfulfilled due to insufficient coverage in certain areas and unequal distribution of water."

In 2017, an IMC survey revealed that close to 1,800 MLD water could be drawn from Tincha waterfall, Sheetlamata waterfall, and Gambhir River. However, the report is gathering dust some old almirah of the IMC.

Terming 2017 survey flawed, IMC water works incharge Abhishek Sharma, popularly known as Bablu Sharma, says, “Heavy fund would have to be spent for only 30 MLD of water to city,” he says.

However, things have changed in last seven years. Rising population and ever expanding Indore has led to ever-increasing gap between demand and supply.

IMC has realised that it not only needs to increase water drawing facility to meet future requirements but also create a parallel network to avoid any water crisis in case of snags in the Narmada project.

“This same fear led to 2017 survey. However, it was shunned due to high development cost,” said sources.

“New survey will study feasibility of enhancing water supply by constructing dams near waterfalls to save water and reduce distribution costs,” says Bablu Sharma.

Explaining the rationale behind new survey, he says, “It will be an extension of 2017 survey and conducted by irrigation department. Old survey projected a supply of 30 MLD at a huge cost. The new survey, however, will offer more benefits in terms of cheaper water supply and cost effectiveness. These waterfalls are situated at nearly 150 metres. Hence, water will be pulled down by its own gravity. Motor pumps will not be required thus cutting down on power cost.”

Currently the cost of collecting, purifying and supplying Narmada water to homes in Indore stands at Rs 21/1000 litres.

The Narmada water is pumped up to a height of 534 metres and then covers more than 80kms from Jalud station to reach Indore.

Dams are a must to ensure alternate supply line from waterfalls. For example: Water from Tincha Fall would be pumped up to a height of 150-metre. It would cover a distance merely 30kms to flow out of taps in homes. Solar panels would be installed to reduce electricity cost. The pumps to be used in water distribution too would energy savers thus cutting down electricity cost by approximately 40%.

New Survey

Bablu Sharma claims that currently there is a 60MLD gap between demand and supply. Phase IV of Narmada Project would be completed in next three years, thus increasing the water supply to 900 MLD.

He further explains, Dev Dharam Tekri capacity would be doubled. A new irrigation line from Narmada to Sanwer would be laid in next five years. It will further ease water problems of Indore.

A water treatment plant (WTP) would be set up near Devguradia to supply water to the city.

Besides, capacity of Jalud water treatment plant too would be increased from current 900 MLD to 1,650 MLD. A tender for capacity enhancement work entailing cost of Rs 1,145 crore would soon be floated.

Indore’s distribution line would also be changed and a 600-km-long network of line would be laid across the city. Old house connections too would be changed. A tender for this has already been released and a detailed project report prepared.

Vande Jalam Yojana has already been launched to recharge groundwater. Under the campaign, new ponds would be built and old water bodies rejuvenated. The encroachment on water bodies and channels too would be removed.

Narmada Phase 4

The Narmada Phase IV, for which budgetary provision of Rs 1,500 crore has been made, would meet water needs of the city up to 2035, Sharma had said in last year’s IMC council’s budget meeting.

“As of now, a DPR under AMRUT 2.0 has been sent to the state government. The plan is to start Narmada Phase IV in next two years,” he had said in that meeting.

As per IMC projection, in 2040, Indore’s 58.7 lakh population would require 1,100 MLD of water. In 2050, water needs of 90 lakh population would go up to around 1621 MLD water.

Old project

Former IMC water works in-charge Balram Verma said that city needs more than 1,000 MLD of water and should not be fully dependent on Jalud for it. It should explore alternative options to avoid any water crisis arising out of collapse of primary system.

Pushing for implementation of 2017 survey, Verma claimed that the city could get more than 1,800 MLD water, including 1,600 MLD from Tincha waterfall, 200 MLD from Sheetlamata waterfall and about 70 MLD from Yashwant Sagar. “If we can bring water from there, the city will become ‘Atma Nirbhar’ and this process will be perennial in nature,” he claims.

Bringing water from Jalud to common households costs Rs 21/ 1,000 litres. The alternative suggested above would bring down the cost to less than Rs 10/1000 litres. “As we don’t have to uplift the water till a height of 550 metres, the power consumption will be only 25% of current cost. Currently, Rs 150 crore is spent on electricity bill and maintenance works annually to transport water to your home from Narmada. Another Rs 30 crore per month is spent on power bill for drawing water from tubewell. We can’t afford such a high cost for water for long. So, we identified the alternative sources upstream to draw water at comparatively cheaper rates. Verma said that as per rough estimate, Rs 1,500 crore would be required to set up a new water supply network. The cost could be recovered in just 10 years by saving Rs 150 crore on electricity bill per year.

Borewell

Floating population is one of the major reasons behind water crisis in city, claimed Verma. He said that IMC should supply water on a daily basis rather than on odd-even days so that people don’t have to store extra water using motors. “People’s penchant for storing more buckets of water for the next day causes problems,” he further said.

Drying of natural water resources due to unchecked use by people too was a major issue, Verma added. To fulfil water needs, people were unrestrictedly drawing underground water.

Number of borewells is rising and the groundwater level is declining. Currently, the number of borewells in city stands at approximately 6,000.

Tankers

Water scarcity is felt more in summers as demand rises. More than 300 tankers are required in the city during summers. The number comes down to 100 in other seasons.

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