Precious waste: BMC uses 15.49 L litres of water to wash roads daily | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Precious waste: BMC uses 15.49 L litres of water to wash roads daily

By, Mumbai:
Feb 20, 2024 07:22 AM IST

BMC's deep cleaning drive wastes 15.49 lakh litres of water daily, amid looming 10% water cut. Experts urge efficient use to tackle looming water crisis.

At a time when the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is considering a 10% water cut beginning March, due to dipping lake levels (which measured 46.67% on Monday), on an average 15.49 lakh litres of water is going down the drain daily due to chief minister Eknath Shinde’s deep cleaning scheme.

Mumbai, India –Nov 16, 2023: BMC Workers showering water spray on the Satrasta Road to control pollution level, in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, Nov 16, 2023. (Photo by Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo)
Mumbai, India –Nov 16, 2023: BMC Workers showering water spray on the Satrasta Road to control pollution level, in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, Nov 16, 2023. (Photo by Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo)

This is not very dissimilar to the CM’s ambitious 1,700-crore beautification drive last year, which resulted in trees being lit up and butterfly lights fixed on electric poles.

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Every day, the civic body’s hydraulic department washes 422 roads covering around 659.09 kms with water drawn from bore wells and sewage treatment plants. 211 tankers are deployed for the purpose. Additionally, 18 misting machines are used to further cover 59.5kms of roads to sprinkle water to mitigate dust pollution.

This reserve could have been utilised for secondary purposes like firefighting, watering public gardens and in public toilets.

The weekly drive which was initiated in early December to curb dust and improve the overall sanitation of the city and suburbs, was converted into a daily drive from the beginning of February. Every Monday, ward officers draw up weekly plans for the drive, undertaken between 6.30am and 2pm. This is actioned across 25 wards; 175tons of dust is collected daily.

Prashant Tayshetye, chief engineer, solid waste management (in-charge) said, “There are at least 100 locations in 25 wards from where we draw water from borewells and sewage treatment plants every day for misting machines to combat air pollution.”

At 1.20 lakh litres, K west ward in Andheri-Juhu utilises maximum water followed by 1.14 lakh litres in K east ward which is Andheri east, Jogeshwari east and Vile Parle east.

Need for water efficiency

Pranjal Deekshit, chairman of Centre for Water Policy and Governance at the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), said while there is no way to establish a direct corelation between the extraction and depletion, he emphasised that water which can be used for secondary purposes should not be wasted for deep cleaning of roads. “When Mumbai is still growing vertically, BMC is under pressure to set up large pipelines,” he said.

He called attention to the transformation of central Mumbai over the last 15 years where many high rises have come up for both commercial and residential purposes. “The entire pipeline network has been changed to satisfy the needs of the regrown part of Mumbai. Water efficiency is required and in case of a shortfall in dams one will have to dip into groundwater for secondary purposes like public gardens and fire brigade. Hence, it isn’t recommended that such water be used to clean streets and roads,” he said.

Deekshit added that towns and villages that are in the catchment areas of the seven dams, which supply water to Mumbai and Mumbai Metropolitan Region where the boundaries overlap, are deprived of water. Deekshit explained this saying, a “Mumbaikar’s consumption is 240 litres per person per day (the highest in India), while other towns have 135 litres per person per day and some towns have 70 litres per person per day despite having similar lifestyles. So, using ground water for cleaning roads and putting more pressure on the system in the drier areas in summer is not acceptable.”

Dip in lake levels

The city is also facing diminished lake levels this year due to reduced rainfall in September and October. The dip in lake levels is attributed to accelerated evaporation due to a warmer winter this season and the premature withdrawal of monsoon.

Gufran Beig, chair professor at NIAS, IISC, and founder project director, SAFAR put the deficit down to the El Nino phenomenon. “The El Nino period this summer is connected to an extreme summer which will have an effect on lake levels. We expect more frequent heatwaves in the upcoming summer months. If the trend persists, a warmer summer is expected with faster depletion of water levels in the lakes,” said Beig.

Activist advocate Godfrey Pimenta, from Watchdog Foundation, offered other options to keep the city clean. “BMC should impose a strict penalty on the polluter who is littering the area. Singapore has zero tolerance for such nuisance. The civic body can also frame a policy to drill civic sense into people. Otherwise, it is just a futile exercise and not to mention criminal wastage of water,” said Pimenta.

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