Taj city residents complain of contaminated water supply

Agra, Feb 3: The Taj city has been battling a water crisis with supply hit since the last 10 days and whatever quantity trickling in into homes highly contaminated, say people. Officials Monday however said the situation was set to improve in the next two days.

Complaining that the water supplied from the century-old Water Works is contaminated and stinking, people have taken to the streets to protest the authorities’ failure to repair a sluice gate at Hindon river leading to industrial effluents flowing into the Yamuna.

Jal Sansthan general manager Manju Rani Gupta however assured the situation would improve with increased water flow from the Mathura barrage and more water being released from the Ganga canal reaching the city in the next two days.

Local environmentalists contend the problem will not be permanently solved until the drains opening into the river all the way from Delhi to Agra are capped or diverted.

“This year we have had more than average rainfall and for several months, the Yamuna was overflowing. Winter is not yet over, but there is already such a hue and cry over water shortage,” said activist Shravan Kumar Singh, terming the irrigation department “callous and unresponsive”.

For Agra, the Yamuna at the moment is getting 100 cusecs from Mathura’s Gokul Barrage, and another 150 cusecs from the Ganga canal upstream of Vrindavan.

“But by the time, water reaches Agra, half either gets drawn by illegal pumps for agriculture, or is lost to evaporation or seepage. The chief problem is what to do with industrial effluents from upstream cities.

“The water that flows in Yamuna is of such a poor quality that even bacteria can not survive… how much chlorine or bleaching powder can you add? It is just not possible to improve the quality,” says D.K. Joshi, member of the Supreme Court monitoring committee on water and sewage for Agra.

Gupta claimed that the quality of raw water was constantly being monitored, and would improve once fresh water reaches Agra.

The city’s 10 million population is served by two water works, while the main source continues to remain the Yamuna. There have been demands to lay an alternative pipeline from Chambal river to bring in water which is less polluted.