Water: Augmenting Infrastructure,Improving Distribution (E)

Access to clean water is now considered as a basic human right and ensuring the availability and distribution of freshwater is seen as a primary goal of state and central governments. Population growth, urbanisation, and socioeconomic development are expected to increase urban industrial and domestic water demand by 50–80% by 2050. While urban areas are vulnerable to water shortage due to climate change and rapid population growth, the effects of urban development patterns are also posing a serious challenge for authorities and Municipal corporations in ensuring the fitness of supply and distribution of piped water in the urban areas and importantly ensuring that the least amount of water is wasted in the distribution network. Its estimated 90 percent of urban India does have access (World Bank source) to water either through pipes or through water tankers. But Like other parts of the world India’s Urban water distribution also faces major challenges due to damage, leakage & breakage in water supply networks due to which the water gets contaminated and also wasted. Nearly 40% of India’s population is living in cities at present, and this share is expected to become more than 60% by 2050. However, 31% of urban households either lack access to piped water or get contaminated water. In many cities, the existing water supply and distribution infrastructure is old and requires transformation. Responding to the situation, the Union ministry of Jal Shakti launched the Jal Jeevan Mission, aiming to expand the piped water network to all households in India by 2024. Under the mission, the entire Urban water supply infrastructure, surface water diversions, pumps, transmission pipes and canals, treatment and storage facilities, and distribution network will be rehabilitated and upgraded. It will also be created if necessary on a priority basis. Our India science team travelled to Mumbai the city that never sleeps and one of the world's largest urban areas and visited one such construction site where the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai or BMC as it is called along with the engineers of Patel Engineering Ltd. is constructing a network of underground tunnels to augment the existing water distribution networks. Under this project, two underground water tunnels are being constructed to boost water supply in parts of the central suburbs and to parts of Mumbai. The first tunnel between Chembur to Trombay will be 5.5 km long and 2.5 m wide, and the other one between Chembur-Wadala-Parel will be 9.7 km long and 2.5 m wide. The tunnel is being constructed beneath 100 to 110 metres from the ground, and its diameter is 3.2 metres. So in this episode, we will talk about the science behind urban water supply and distribution infrastructure needed to provide water to crores of people each day, and also exclusive will take you into one of the deepest tunnels ever built in Mumbai for water supply.

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