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Vasai-Virar Mira-Bhayander Water Issue
In the bustling cities of Thane district there is a simmering crisis that is keeping the citizens on edge ‘Vasai-Virar Mira-Bhayander water issue’. Despite the completion of the Surya Dam project, an extreme shortage of water plagues the city, and the reason behind this dilemma is the delayed inauguration. The frustration of the residents has reached a tipping point, and even the political parties have joined the fray to address this pressing concern.
To cater to the escalating water needs of Vasai-Virar and Mira-Bhayander in Palghar district, the state government devised the Surya Dam project under the aegis of the Mumbai Metropolitan Development Authority (MMRDA). The project’s subsequent phases have been successfully executed, and there are no technical obstacles preventing the supply of water to these cities. However, the residents are yet to benefit from the dam due to the postponed opening ceremony.
Towards the end of the last month, expectations soared when it was announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would inaugurate the Surya Dam project. Citizens anticipated immediate relief from the water crisis. However, the Prime Minister’s visit has been postponed, leaving the city in the lurch. With a severe water shortage despite the completion of the project, the delay in the inauguration has provoked the ire of the residents. This issue has also become a battleground for political parties, intensifying the water problem’s urgency.
Present Water Supply in Vasai-Virar and Mira-Bhayander
Vasai-Virar city currently receives a total of 230 million liters of water, with 200 million liters coming from both phases of the Surya Project, 10 million liters from Pelhar Dam, and 20 million liters from Usgaon Dam. With the city’s population growing exponentially, concerns have persisted that this water supply is insufficient.
Mira-Bhayander city receives 221 million liters of water, which is jointly provided by MIDC (135 MLD) and Shahad Temghar (STEM) Water Supply Authority (86 MLD). The geographic location of these cities at the tail-end of the district exacerbates their water troubles, with low pressure, frequent shutdowns, and repair work compounding the issue.
In addition to these woes, rainwater harvesting systems have been mandatory for all constructions since 2009. Unfortunately, the groundwater level has also significantly decreased, further worsening the situation.
Root Causes of the Water Crisis
The population of areas governed by the Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation (VVCMC) has surged from 12.22 lakhs in 2011 to 24 lakhs in 2023, according to data from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). This population explosion has strained the city’s resources, including water supply.
Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) is among the fastest-growing areas near Mumbai, with an estimated population of 15,00,000 in 2021. In recent years, the city has witnessed the construction of numerous urban complexes. Large-scale housing projects like MHADA and private developments have mushroomed in the area, with no curbs on population growth within the municipal limits. Compared to other cities in the metropolitan region, this area’s population growth rate is notably high.
The Surya Water Project: An Extraordinary Solution
The Surya Regional Water Supply Scheme was initiated in 2018 to provide 403 MLD (million liters per day) of water to deal with Vasai-Virar Mira-Bhayander Water Issue. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is in the final phase of laying a 90-km-long water pipeline from the Surya Dam, constructed in the 1990s in Dhamani village.
This ambitious project encompasses the installation of a water supply pipeline from Surya Dam, aiming to deliver 218 MLD of water to Mira Bhainder Municipal Corporation (MBMC) and 185 MLD of water to Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation (VVCMC). Water sourced from downstream of the dam will undergo treatment at a new plant and be distributed through the pipeline. The dam itself spans 203 square kilometers and currently holds over 10,000 million cubic feet of water.
The pipeline will run parallel to NH8, passing through Vaitarna and Tansa rivers. Part of the pipeline will traverse a 4.25-kilometer-long tunnel, situated at a depth of at least 40-50 meters below the Tungareshwar National Park and the Diva-Vasai Railway line. The water will be supplied through an inlet at Kawadas and drawn by six large pumps. As per report published in Free Press Journal in July 2023, tunneling work beneath the Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary has been successfully completed.
Progress with Water Pressure Testing
Before water can be dispensed, a water pressure test is imperative. In the first week of July, 80 to 90 million liters of water under this scheme became available at Kashidkopar MBR. Subsequently, the connection work of the main water channel was initiated at Kashidkopar on July 23rd. Following this, the water pressure test and washout work have been completed, sparking excitement among the residents of Vasai-Virar and Mira-Bhayander.
In conclusion, the Vasai-Virar Mira-Bhayander water issue has reached a critical juncture. The ever-increasing population, rampant urbanization, and unchecked construction activities have strained the water resources to their limits. However, the Surya Water Project, once fully operational, promises to provide much-needed relief to these cities. The completion of the water pressure testing phase is a significant step towards resolving the water crisis and improving the lives of the residents in these rapidly growing urban centers.