GOA has been losing more than 30 per cent of its treated water supplied through the pipelines for years through leakage and pilferage. Water being pilfered allegedly with the connivance of Public Works Department officials is an unaddressed public complaint. Goa produces around 620 million litres (MLD) of water per day, of which over 200 MLD is lost due to leakages. Of the 620 MLD of treated water produced in the state, around 605 is through major water treatment plants while the remaining 15 MLD is produced through pressure filters, tube wells and open wells. Despite losing such a huge volume of water the problem of leakages has not been effectively tackled for decades. The PWD authorities have been assuring that leakage would be stopped, but little has been done. And they go further to assure that all treated water would be accounted for! But they do not say when; they do not give a deadline; they do not take an effective measure.
Leakages are due to bursting of pipelines. Hardly any day passes when the water supply pipelines do not burst at one place or another in a city. The promise to replace the pipelines and ensure 24×7 supply of water has remained unfulfilled. Had the authorities been able to stop the leakages the water woes of people could have been over a long time ago. True, the government has been able to augment the water treatment capacity over the years and has plans to add another 80 MLD of treated water in the near future. The water pipeline network has been spread across the state with only a few hamlets left to be covered. The PWD has, however, not been able to supply water continuously for more than six hours to a majority of places every day. Most places receive water supply for a couple of hours and that too is erratic. In some places water is supplied every alternate day. Though new water pipelines have been laid over the years to ensure 24×7 water supply to the capital city of Panaji, the situation has remained unchanged for over a decade. There are no signs of people getting enhanced supply of water and it is unlikely that the situation could change any time soon. Having attributed the loss of water to leakages, the state authorities say that the solution to the issue could be in replacing all the water pipelines in the state, which could cost a staggering Rs 1,600 crore. According to the PWD officials, replacement of pipelines would bring down the non-revenue water supply by over 50 per cent.
The PWD authorities admit that despite availability of huge amount of treated water people cannot be supplied enough water. They must replace all the old pipelines that are prone to bursting with standard pipelines that can withstand pressure for longer duration. This will not only help save treated water, on which the government spends a lot of money for purification, but also bring revenue to the government. The government would also be able to supply water to users at the end of the pipelines for longer duration who normally are victims of leakages due to bursting of pipeline. Many a times the PWD authorities are lax in getting the leakages repaired leading to water going waste for days, if not weeks. The government has to also investigate allegations that some of the leakages are not repaired to facilitate pilferage of water by unscrupulous elements who with the connivance of officials manage to steal water. They must stop pilferage.
Water being one of the most essential human needs, PWD Minister Ramkrishna Dhavalikar should personally formulate and monitor plans to supply enough water to the people to meet their daily demands. Availability of enough water is essential to maintain good health. If people do not get enough treated water they have to depend on other sources for it, which might not provide them safe water. The government should appreciate that lack of treated water could make people vulnerable to diseases owing to lapses in hygiene and sanitation. Over the past few decades the population of the state has grown and so has the demand for water. New residential colonies have come up. The problem has been further compounded by high growth of tourism, which brings in people almost four times the state’s population. The government should take steps to invest in new pipelines and supply good quality water to the citizens and visitors to the state.