A large number of stories this week remind us that India urgently needs national urban water policy.
The water footprint of urban areas is gradually on the rise. The cities have several problems with management including destruction of water sources, groundwater exploitation, poor performance in treating and recycling the polluted water, pollution and encroachment on water bodies etc. To fulfil their growing demands new dams, barrages and check dams are being planned, proposed and built on the rivers in faraway places, which is in turn displacing and depriving the local people of equitable water share.
Even before onset of summer, the Army in Sagar district have started patrolling Chitora dam to prevent water thefts (denying farmers to take dam water for irrigation).
The BMC in Bombay is finalizing total cost of Gargai dam which has roughly increased to three thousands crore from eighteen hundred crore according to first estimates in 2012. The city is already getting its water from half a dozen dams. In Thane, apex court has removed stay on Kalu dam construction citing that it is meant to meet growing drinking water demand of Thane.
Meanwhile the respective agencies of Pune and Pimpri- Chinchwad have failed to stop pollution in Mula Mutha, Nag, Pavana, Indrayani rivers.
Similarly, in the name of restoration, the Gujarat government is planning barrages on Tapi, Vishwamitri rivers to meet drinking water demands of Surat and Vadodara.
Meanwhile the cost of Yettinahole diversion project has gone up from eight to twenty thousands crore. This project is also being pushing for drinking water supply.
In Chennai one more check dam on Cooum river has been finalized. The city is also facing sea water intrusion.
The story of Vashitha river in Salem shows how dumping the solid and liquid waste, mining and check dam has turned the river into a drain from pristine water stream in last twenty years.