Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Water War of Smart City!

 “A fish only discovers its need for
water when it is no longer in it.
Our society is no different than the fish!”…  Fons Trompenaars.

Fonsus Trompenaars is a Dutch organizational theorist, management consultant, and author in the field of cross-cultural communication, known for the development of Trompenaars' model of national culture differences. Well, Fons may be management consultant but the example he gave from his quote I found most apt for the situation we are in (read as the mess of scene we are creating) as a society in Pune & subject is second dearest to heart of we the Puneakrs’ & yes its water! As Punekar loves two things, condemning traffic on road & show pride about their water supply! For once traffic is taking back seat, thanks to Metro work going all over Pune which has made every Punekar think for a while their all traffic worries are going to end soon! No comments, as time will only tell about the outcome of Metro, as its been looked as “Sanjeevani” (a mythological herb to treat the near dead patients bringing them back to normal) for the traffic named cancer but then Pune is blessed with having newer problems (read creating) when all seems going well & latest (created) problem is water.

For ages Pune is supposed to be the best city of its size in not just Maharashtra but in entire country for its water supply, on front of quality & quantity both! Punekar always took pride that they don’t need to store water where as citizens of every other city not just town or village in the State uses all possible means to store water in their homes & this is scene since last many decades. This is one of the main cause that thousands of people especially from Marathwada & Vidarbha regions has migrated to Pune as water is something which brings all segments of society on one platform. In the other regions of State, may you be a high ranked govt officer or a teacher or a business man or a landlord or a hand rickshaw puller, yet here you are poor when water is the scale of life! On this background Pune is heaven because no one is poor on the scale of water, as here wealth in the form of water keeps flowing twenty four hours a day & for all 365 days a year! All that Punekar knows about water is open the tap & water flows, so when suddenly some govt dept named Irrigation (Jal Sampada) declared that they will be curtailing the water supply to Pune (read PMC) the news made more impact than that of Atom Bomb has done to Japan for the Punekars! And last few days (its months now actually) the only headlines we are reading is statement & counter statements & counter-counter statements by every govt dept, political parties, so called leaders & obvious the NGO”s (how we can miss them in this city) about water cuts! The “tet e te” between PMC & Irrigation has been now at peak & as usual the dispute has gone to Hon CM’s chamber for the justice (this is term used by leaders only). 

Well, let’s see from the angle of a common citizen towards the water issue first, as I wonder how many actually understands who owns the key to the water supply of the city. Is it State Govt (read Chief Minister) or PMC or this Irrigation dept? Well answer is not even Irrigation dept owns any of the water as to my knowledge there is a State level authority formed by constitution which decides the use of every drop of water in the State. And before that comes a central (read national) level authority which decides which State can hold how much water for the use of that State or else as most rivers flows from North to South, the upper altitude (read Northern) State’s would have hold all the water in their respective regions leaving the rivers flowing southwards total dry! So by now you must have realized any water in any dam or river is not ownership of some city or some local body not even irrigation dept but all the water State has, is calculated already & every drop has been allotted to every user in the State may it be city or industry or farming! The irrigation dept is just like cashier in any bank i.e. it is custodian of the cash & all it can do is, give you water as per the balance in your account which is pre-decided already!  So with due respect if Punkers’ are considering all the five dams on our upstream are for Pune city only then that’s not legally true is something we must accept in first place!

Now once you have understood the water distribution at State level then coming back to the dispute between PMC & Irrigation dept of Pune, let’s know how much water has been allotted to Pune per year as then only we will realize the scene in totality. So, by this committee of water, Pune city (read PMC) is entitled for 8.35 TMC water per year. Now most readers are already enough confused as we are used to count water in liters but when its quota for a city with population of four millions (forty lac), litters is not a scale or figure which will be convenient to frequent use so it’s TMC. To make reader understand here is the math, Cusec is a measure of flow rate of water and is abbreviation for cubic feet per second (which is equivalent to a flow of 28.317 liters per second) and 11,000 cusecs flow for a day amounts to 1 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) water; thus ! 1 TMC is 28 Billion liters of water & this makes 8.35 TMC as 233.80 billion liters of water for a year. Now with 4 million (0.004 billion) population of Pune (read PMC) & 1 billion is equal to 1000 millions, so per head per day we have been allotted 160 liters of water throughout the year (233.8 bl ltr/ 0.004bl population i.e. 40 lac/365 days).  Now by this standard also Pune is way ahead as Nagpur city gets hardly 80 liters per head per day & Aurangabad even lower & let’s not speak about tire two cities like Amraoti, Ahemad-Nagar & Latur etc or else if not World war but State war will start immediately! Even the ideal scale of WHO (World Health Organization) also considers per head per day water supply as 135 liters & that’s for developed countries in Europe! Now you can imagine the luck Puneakrs’ enjoy as on other hand worlds nearly 80% population doesn’t have access to clean & potable water is the scene!

Now the cry is water quota has been reduced from 13 TMC to some 11 TMC; means already we were getting nearly 260 liters per head per day which has been now curtailed to 200 liters per head per day & yet that too is way ahead of what we legally deserve & morally as well scientifically also as its still above the WHO norms, now I will ask where is water cut in actual? In my college days there was a game of “fishpond”, those who are 45 plus years put behind may be remembering this & in this game funny names are given to the students as well professors & it’s been announced from stage making the mob cheer or laugh as most of these names had been derived from some peculiar characteristics of that student or teacher! I remember one boy who was son of a millionaire business man has got a fishpond, “meri wajahase mera baap bana lakhpati, par ye baat chodo ki pahale tha wo karodpati”! It means, because of my efforts my father has become a millionaire but earlier he was a billionaire, in nut shale because of the boy’s spending the father has become poorer actually even though he is a millionaire!  Well, above fishpond seems to be perfect for Pune at present as we have been so used to use water more than what we deserved that even a slight cut in that which wasn’t ours actually,  we feel it’s our loss, isn’t it? And all above figures I have taken from govt’s various official web sites only as well the conversion figures are available in any math book!

Now if its proven that Pune gets water approx some 200 plus liters per head per day then why it is so that many suburbs has a continuous problems of shortage of water supply & why just reduction in few liters in whatever is already more than adequate is making entire city feel like draught, is the question I will put forward!Because water is one of the key aspect of real estate of the city & presence of good quality assured water supply by the local body is directly related with rates of real estate as well bookings is a known fact! The first question you get while you are attending any client’s inquiry for your project is, “is there PMC water supply?”And if the answer is No, then fifty percent clients rejects that site, especially women as they are the one who has to face water shortage. As well getting water by tanker or bore well has its own problems, right from budget to quality of water through tanker & of bore well are just to name a few. No need to say that you are totally on mercy of water tanker suppliers (read lobby) & off-late this has been a menace in the suburbs, right from their monopoly regarding rates too even going to extent of threatening society residents if they try to bring in some other water tanker supplier, many things you will know if you take residents of such projects in confidence, where PMC water supply net work is not available or areas outside of PMC limit. Though even in PMC situation of water supply is grave in fringe areas which no one accepts openly is a fact! There have been announcements about 24X 7 water supply i.e. full day water will come via pipe lines of PMC but it will have a water meter & billing will be on consumption basis i.e. more the consumption more the rate of billing per liter! But as usual these were just announcements as to my knowledge even the so called Smart Suburb Baner-Balewadi also faces water supply shortage, leave apart 24x7 scheme, to such extent that the residents has gone to High Court for basic water supply! And in addition now we have to cater the need of newly acquired 28 villages as well PMRDA also demanding water from the very same dams which Punekars’ were thinking are of their sole ownership!

Actually it to fulfill need of PMRDA only the so called water use control regarding PMC’s water use has come in lime light, is the discussion among concerned authorities & it is logical! Because if this city is getting 150 lit water per head per day, but does we have any system to keep tab on controlled use of this supply is the key question & nobody is answering this main question! In first place how much is exact population of Pune, this again nobody is calculation in systematic way as if more than 50% population live in slum (read illegal construction included) then what means we have to calculate exact population & then how we arrive on the need of water supply in first place? And then the lesser we speak about the way this water is being supplied to the citizens (staying in legal & illegal homes) better it will be. Because the city which uses water on basis of billing some component in property tax, even God won’t be able to fulfill water need of such city! So the scene is some parts of the city gets abundant water i.e. nearly 400 lit per head per day & some part of the city goes dry (read on mercy of tanker lobby). And this is being done deliberately is also talks in whispers but then most of such beneficiaries are themselves the rulers of the city, so whom to complaint is the question which nobody asks! At the same time those who are getting enough water must learn to use it with respect as right from car washing to washing floors of the flats all such luxuries are making many other people’s life miserable because you are consuming their water! Indeed PMC/PCMC has come up with compulsory rain water harvesting like policies for the new projects but what’s effective use of such policies or implementation, again nobody cares so nobody knows its outcome! At the same time what about implementing existing building’s rain water harvesting, why it’s not compulsory for them the rain water harvesting systems or else hike their property tax! Because here people can spend millions of rupees for their interiors but to spend few thousand rupees for society's rain water harvesting, they just don’t feel the need because they don’t care! And if someone (read citizen) isn’t caring about his or her social responsibility then its job of the govt (read PMC) to make them aware by preaching them or else punish them financially! And this is where our govt lacks will as to increase property tax heavily for wrong use of water means direct threat to vote bank but just think if all political parties’ unite & make heavy fines for wrong water use & see that the policy getting implemented then the voter will also has to surrender as every party has been in support of such policy whomsoever they vote! But unfortunately the biggest curse to not just Pune but our entire country is taking decisions to make people happy on face than thinking of their long terms happiness & outcome is fiasco on water use/policies/ supply in Pune city! Lets understand, water quantity is fixed whatever we have got as storage capacity of dams’ is fixed & even with all dams full every person in Pune district has his or her right on this water, so all we can do is distribute the available water in even proportion to all users. And for that all focus must be on laying such system of water supply in place on priority. One more thing, though water quantity for Pune is fix (by nature as well by authorities at State & Central level) but the population is going to increase every new day, so the only way is start using water extreme judiciously from today only!

Here is where city’s real estate segment should take lead & use the forums like CRDAI or MBVA to raise the voice about basic needs like water supply of the city than just focusing on FSI, TOD, Height of Building or Ease of Doing Business related policies. As one day there will be lots of FSI, TDR, Premium FSI, 100 meter height, immediate sanctioning of plans but there won’t be water for all these projects, at such time just Ease of Doing Business won’t be saving real estate is a writing on the concrete wall!


Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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