Pune faces water crisis as demand outstrips supply

As Pune and its suburbs rapidly grow, there has been a demand to supply water from Mulshi Dam, not just relying on Khadakwasla and Bhama Askhed dam.
File Pic
File Pic

Pune: With the city's limits expanding to 518 square kilometers, Pune now faces the challenge of providing daily water supply to a population of 70 lakh. The municipal corporation has requested 20.90 TMC (Thousand Million Cubic Feet) of water from the Irrigation Department, but has only been allocated 12.82 TMC. The expanded city limits, severe water shortages in the 34 newly included villages, and insufficient water supply within the old limits have left Pune's residents struggling, exacerbated by tanker mafias.

According to directives from the State Water Resources Regulatory Authority, the municipal corporation must submit its water budget to the Irrigation Department by the end of July each year. For 2022-23, the corporation requested 20.34 TMC but received only 12.41 TMC.

For 2023-24, the corporation submitted a budget considering a population of 72 lakh, including a 2 per cent increase for the newly incorporated villages and daily commuters. Additionally, they accounted for 35 per cent water leakage, requesting a total quota of 20.90 TMC.

The Irrigation Department, however, approved only 12.82 TMC for the period from July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024. The corporation's request included 2.36 TMC for the 34 new villages and 16 institutions, assuming a population of 10 lakh.

This request was denied, with the department stating they were already supplying water to these areas. Moreover, the department recognized only 13 per cent leakage (1.47 TMC) instead of the claimed 35 per cent.

The Irrigation Department has levied inflated bills on the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for water usage, including a penalty of ₹478 crore. Despite discussions with officials, no resolution has been reached, prompting the PMC to initiate a legal battle with appointed lawyers. If resolved by local legislators, this could save the corporation hundreds of crores.

As Pune city and its suburbs rapidly grow, there has been a previous demand to supply water from Mulshi Dam, not just relying on Khadakwasla and Bhama Askhed dam projects.

A resolution was passed in the PMC's standing committee in August 2021, and legislators have demanded 5 TMC of water from Mulshi Dam in previous sessions. However, this demand has yet to influence the government. Coordinated efforts by all city legislators are necessary to secure additional water from Mulshi.

The sewage water generated in Pune can be treated in Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) and used for agriculture. The municipal corporation can also supply this water to industries, potentially increasing its water quota from the Irrigation Department.

Currently, the Mula-Mutha river purification project includes processing 396 MLD of water in STPs, expected to be completed by 2025. The corporation has also prepared a sewage management plan for the newly included villages and is seeking financial aid for implementation, urging legislators to address this in the legislature.

Key Stats:

  • Population: 70 lakh

  • Newly Included Villages: 34

  • Approved Water Quota: 12.82 TMC

  • Area: 518 square kilometers

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