Water for all

Published : Feb 29, 2008 00:00 IST

The water filtration plant at Thakellapadu.-

The water filtration plant at Thakellapadu.-

The water filtration

PIPED drinking water of good quality may be a dream for many of Indias citizens but not for those in Guntur. Here 85 per cent of the people get treated water in abundance at their doorsteps. It is probably one of the few cities in the country that has multiple sources of water that could be tapped in emergencies.

Though the city is deficient in groundwater, its residents do not feel the pinch thanks to the Guntur Municipal Corporation (GMC), which supplies water from sources situated in the north-eastern part of the city. A major quantum of raw water, however, comes from the Krishna through canals [especially the Guntur Channel] and the Sangam Jagarlamudi filtration plant, says Municipal Commissioner Siddhartha Jain.

Equitable, round-the-clock distribution of quality water is the ultimate goal of the GMC. In order to make the city water-surplus by 2036, the GMC plans to reduce consumption of power needed to lift water from the source and deliver it at the customers doorstep, augment new sources of raw water, carry out complete lining of the Guntur Channel and reduce wastage by taking a zonal approach to distribution. The project, visualised by GKW Consultants under the Central governments Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT), will cost the GMC Rs.200 crore.

More than half the citys population gets free drinking water. Despite this, the GMC is able to meet its operation and maintenance (O&M) costs. For 90,000 property tax assessments, there are only 50,000 individual tap connections; 5,750 of these have been given to the poor at Rs.1,200 a connection and the remaining are public taps. A second filtration plant with a capacity of 45 million litres a day, which was set up recently at Thakellapadu on the citys outskirts, has helped the corporation filter water effectively from the Guntur Channel; this acts as a standby for the existing plant.

A second water pipeline that would carry an additional 10 million gallons a day (MGD) of raw water from the Guntur Channel is to be set up soon.

Rationalising water charges and metering water consumption are the long-term plans of the corporation to meet future O&M costs. Currently it collects Rs.4 crore annually as water cess from the 50,000 customers, including 1,700 commercial and bulk water users, who get metered supply.

The steps taken by Mayor Kanna Nagaraju to have the Sangam Jagarlamudi plant and storage tanks cleaned and modernised has enabled the GMC stabilise its inflow and save crores of rupees.

Checking leakages and improving services are not possible without the involvement of the stakeholders. The Municipal Commissioner proposes to hold regular meetings of customers under each local reservoir where minor, day-to-day problems could be sorted out.

Water audit at each reservoir has improved the accountability of the engineering staff and the public. Under the audit, the GMC measures the outflow of water every hour and the total real consumption/receipt in the area it serves at the citizens point.

A modern gas equipment has been installed at reservoirs to improve water chlorination and ensure the right quantum of chlorine when it reaches the consumer.

Ramesh Susarla
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