Dams · Urban Rivers

Chandigarh Water Sources; Streams: The City Not So Beautiful

Chandigarh is widely known for its well-designed urban areas and associated amenities. No doubt, the city is relatively congestion free and cleaner. The roads are wider, sideways have adequate space for walkers and cyclists and they are mostly covered under thick tree canopy earning its tag of ‘City Beautiful’.

However less is known about and rivers. This pictorial account tries to throw some light on present day situation of water sources like wells, ponds and rivers in and around Chandigarh town.


About Chandigarh

Chandigarh[i] (30.74°N 76.79°E) is located at the foothills of the Shivalik range of the Himalayas in northwest India. It covers an area of approximately 114 km2. It borders the states of Haryana and Punjab. As per the Census of India 2011, the population of city is 1,055,450 (currently about 12 lakh).

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Sukhna lake, Chandigarh, Images by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP (19 Oct. 2018) 

About Chandigarh’s Rainfall, Water and Groundwater

The average annual rainfall[II] of Chandigarh is 1110.7 mm. The city also receives occasional rains during winter from the Western Disturbance. Nevertheless, for past many years, the city has been facing water crisis[III] particularly during summer. The water supply[IV] of the city is based on surface water from Bhakra Main Canal (about 58 MGD). Apart from this, there are nearly 239 tube wells[V] supplying about 20 MGD water daily. However many residents in tricity depends on private water supply[VI] and tankers for potable water.

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Google Earth Images, Map showing water streams, Kaushlaya Dam, Sukhna lake in and around Chandigarh (Images prepared by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP)

Presently, the requirement of the water during peak summer season is around 110 MGD, the availability is 87 MGD. There is a gap of 23 MGD between claimed peak demand and availability. Reports also reveal that the city losses upto 26 percent water supply to leakages[VII] which is 11 per cent higher than the national average of 15 per cent.

As per Central Ground Water Board 2017 report[VIII] the groundwater level has been falling in the city and the decrease is as much as four metres at many locations including Sector 31, 10 and 46. Similarly Mohali[IX] and Panchkula[X] have also witnessed fall in groundwater table over the years. Apart from this, waste dumped in landfill sites is contaminating[XI] surrounding groundwater in the tricity a study has revealed. On a positive not the Munchipal Corporation of Panchkula has planned to construct rainwater harvesting[XII] systems in 50 parks at the cost of 5.5 crore. There are about 220 parks in Panchkula.

Koushalya dam Panchkula, Haryana; As per official there is suffecient water in the dam after many years due to good rainfall in the third week of Sept. 2018. The official even reported of sighting about 6 Ghariyal in the dam after the flood. (Images by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP, 19 Oct. 2018)

Waste Water and Treatment Plants

According to Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC), the city is generating around 58 Million Gallon per Day[XIII] (MGD) of waste water daily while the treatment Hence about 4 MGD sewage is officially discharged in streams and drains locally known as Choe. However, if we assume consumption of available 87 MGD water, and taking the standard norm of 80% of it returning as sewage, the sewage generation should be 70 MGD, the gap between STP capacity (53.85 MGD) and sewage generation comes to 16 MGD.

Streams of Chandigarh; Encroached and Adding Pollution in Ghaggar and Satluj Rivers

Chandigarh Drains Map.png

Google Earth Image showing various water streams flowing in and around Chandigarh. (Image prepared by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP)

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Kaushalaya River downstream of dam. Human habitations can be seen constructed close to river banks. It seems that on occasion of Dusshera festival some water was released in the river. (Images by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP, 19 Oct. 2018)

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Ghaggar river close to Gurudwara Nada Sahib at Panchkula. People were seen bathing and imerging idols in the river on account of Dusshera festival. Religious leftovers was also being in the river. Like Kaushalaya river, human habitations have come on either side of river banks.  (Images and video by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP, 19 Oct. 2018)

There are five water streams running through the Chandigarh. In the east there is Ghaggar river that originates in Shivalik hills and flows north southwards close to the city.

In the west side there is Patiala Ki Rao which also emerges from Shivalik Mountain. The small stream feeds the Sutlej River at Bali Kalan in Ludhiana district Punjab. 

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Patiala Ki Rao (Images, Google Earth Image, Video by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP, 19 Oct. 2018)

The catchment areas and land close to the stream has been encroached by farmhouses and colonies. Massive amount of solid waste is also dumped in the small stream.

Patiala Ki Rao

Google Earth Image of Patiala Ki Rao

N Choe, in later part is named as Attawala Choe. The stream is highly polluted. Another Choe Faida Pind Nala flows between N Choe and Sukhna Choe. Solid waste in huge amount is being directly dumped in the river. It also carries domestic sewage of Chandigarh and is in severely polluted state.

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Faida Pind Ka Nala at Jagatpura, Chandigarh (Images & video by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP, 19 Oct. 2018)

N Choe joins the Faida Pind Nala at Dhurali in Mohali. Both the Choes meets the Ghaggar river near Sarala Khurd in Patiala district.

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Sukhna Choe in polluted state downstream Sukhna lake. (Images by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP, 19 Oct. 2018) 

Sukhna Choe independently joins the Ghaggar river at Mirpur village in Panchkula district, Haryana. Downstream of Sukhna lake, the stream carries polluted water. Thus the untreated effluents of Chandigarh city are adding on to the pollution of Ghaggar and Sutlej rivers.

Water Sources of Khuda Ali Sher; Ponds Dying, Wells Drying in Khuda Ali Sher

Khuda Ali Sher

Google Earth Image of Khuda Ali Sher prepared by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP.

Khuda Ali Sher is a small village at the outskirt of Chandigarh. The village is situated at the Shivalik foothill between Nayagaon and Kansal. Both the wells seems deeper than 200 feet and are bone dry indicating fall in groundwater table of the area.

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Defunct well at Gurudwara Dukh Nivaran, Khauda Ali Sher and Another well known as Morani (peahen) at Khuda Ali Sher. (Images by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP, 19 Oct. 2018) 

The ponds in local language are known as Touba. One touba of the Khuda Ali Sher village is dry. Nearby residents have filled a large part of the pond in north side to carve out parking space.

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Touba near Gurudwara Dukh Nivaran. The borewell pipe and parking space made by filling the pond is also seen. Second pond of Khuda Ali Sher filled and converted into Park.  (Images, Video by Bhim Singh Rawat, SANDRP, 19 Oct. 2018) 

As per villagers, a decade back the pond used to be full of water. It was used for fishing and cattle feeding. Few years back, a wall of pond was broken to drain it. Solid waste is also finding its way into the pond.  

Last year, there were attempts to install a deep borewell to provide drinking water supply to nearby areas. But the plan has not materialized so far.

Another Touba of the village has been filled and converted into a park. As per locals, the effort was financially supported by Kiran Kher, Member of Parliament from Chandigarh.

Composed by Bhim Singh Rawat (bhim.sandrp@gmail.com)

End Notes:-

[I] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chandigarh

[II] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chandigarh 

[III] https://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/ht-spotlight-booming-business-of-water-in-chandigarh/story-6gINpjeRQzYpo4Mn4vOBkO.html

[IV] http://mcchandigarh.gov.in/achievements.htm#more1

[V] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/24-hour-supply-ageing-infra-is-the-villain-not-water/articleshow/64567582.cms 

[VI] https://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/high-and-dry-in-mohali-a-dry-summer-in-store/story-Dc92JV4whPiH82RwFbNRXI.html

[VII] https://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/24-7-water-supply-to-remain-a-pipe-dream-in-chandigarh/story-V3i4BuKQdV5W4f1vS5CpUK.html

[VIII] https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/findings-by-central-ground-water-board-groundwater-level-depleting-decreased-4-metre-in-year-says-report-5178363/ 

[IX] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/groundwater-falling-by-7-feet-every-year-in-mohali/articleshow/64470157.cms 

[X] https://www.thestatesman.com/cities/in-five-decades-groundwater-level-in-haryana-plunged-from-9m-to-18m-1494586216.html 

[XI] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/groundwater-near-landfills-toxic-study/articleshow/66113244.cms

[XII] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/50-parks-in-panchkula-to-have-rainwater-recharge-wells/articleshow/65681858.cms 

[XIII] http://chandigarh.gov.in/dept_cpcc.htm 

2 thoughts on “Chandigarh Water Sources; Streams: The City Not So Beautiful

  1. Nice article on Chandigarh water supply. How things changed in the past 65 years !! From 1953 to 1955, my father Mr. Daji Ganesh LIMAYE,a private Hydrogeologist from Pune, was the ground water consultant for the Chandigarh Capital Project. In those days, the Capital of Punjab was temporarily in Shimla and Chandigarh area with a small railway station (without electricity) and a small temple of Chandi Devi, was selected for the new capital Project. First 65 tube wells were drilled (L-1 to L-65) in Chandigarh area under my father’s supervision and pump-tests were taken. The water levels dropped first but then stabilized in a few months. As a college student, I used to assist my father in drawing graphs of water level depletion. At the Inauguration ceremony of the Capital in 1955, my father was felicitated by Dr Rajendra Prasad (President of India) as ONE OF THE FOUNDERS of the Capital. AN area with abundant ground water at one time is now facing scarcity ! Is this our planning failure?


    1. Many thanks for sharing this and so great to know that your father was felicitated by no less than President of India as one of the founders of Chandigarh.

      It reflects poorly on our understanding of water resources and their sustainability particularly in the context of how we deal with natural resource matrix.


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