Nagpur : On one hand, Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) has been appealing to the people to save water as there is crisis. On the other, half of the supply to the city is categorised as ‘NonRevenue Water’ (NRW ). NRW means that water is either lost in leakages, pilferage, or there is unbilled supply through public standposts. A few years ago, it was said that 55 per cent of water was lost due to leakages. Later on, NMC started saying that 55 per cent of water was in NRW category.
Now, despite carrying out replacement of old pipelines, construction of elevated service reservoirs (ESRs), increasing networked areas, and 24×7 water supply scheme touted as a success across the nation, as much as 50 per cent of the water supply to the city is in NRW category. NRW has three sub-categories. The first is of leakages. As many pipelines are old, water being supplied to the city from Pench project reservoir gets wasted due to leakages. At some or the other place, NMC and Orange City Water (OCW ) are engaged in plugging the leakages.
Pipeline replacements are being carried out, but the problem crops up here and there in the form of bursting of pipeline and wastage of water. Another sub-category of NRW is public standposts. According to officials, water supplied through public standposts is treated as NRW because it is unbilled and does not yield any revenue. Previously, there were 3,000 public standposts in the city. Now, the number has been systematically reduced to around 1,000. The third sub-category is pilferage. Despite measures being taken by NMC and OCW, there are several unregistered connections through which water is pilfered directly from the pipelines. Besides, as has been revealed by drive implemented on and off by NMC, many people still use pumps to draw extra water from the pipelines.
Asked about the data on how NMC has been able to reduce the leakages and pilferage over the years, Dr Shweta Banerjee, Executive Engineer (Project), Water Works Department, NMC, said that such quantifiable data was not available. Still, she said, “NMC has been able to bring down the NRW from erstwhile 55 per cent to 50 per cent now.” She candidly admitted that NRW in Nagpur was still above national average of 40 per cent. “We are striving to reduce NRW in Nagpur to at least national average of 40 per cent in the current financial year 2019-20.
Towards this objective, we have initiated certain measures,” Dr Banerjee said. According to her, NMC has started replacing old pipelines and plugging major leakages in water distribution system. Besides, the number of public standposts also is to be reduced further to 400-500. NMC cannot altogether scrap public standposts because they serve the poor and needy people who are unable to pay water charges, she added. Further, she said, action was continuously being taken against pilferage. In several areas where people were getting around 70 litres per capita per day, now we are providing 135 lpcd, Dr Banerjee said. This is being done without any augmentation in water availability to the city. So, the quantity of water is the same but more and more people are getting water supply regularly even in summer. This means, somewhere leakage and pilferage are being plugged, and this has increased water availability for people, she added.