Improving Access: Chandigarh aims for 24×7 water availability

Chandigarh aims for 24x7 water availability

Chandigarh is moving steadily, step by step, towards its goal of 24×7 water supply. Phases V and VI of the Kajauli water pipeline project, which will help achieve this milestone, are progressing well. Under the smart water supply scheme, the city aims to ensure 24×7 water availability to all sectors, and the installation of smart water meters in every household and a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system for monitoring transportation, distribution and treatment of water.


Until 1983, underground water (tube wells) was the only source of water in Chandigarh. At present, 83 million gallons per day (mgd) of water is supplied in the city. Of this, 25 mgd is underground water provided by 270 tube wells and the remaining 58 mgd is surface water from the Bhakra Main Canal, which is tapped at Kajauli, located at a distance of 27.4 km from Chandigarh.

Chandigarh has been segregated into six zones for the purpose of water supply, keeping in mind the slope of the city. The water supply in each of these zones is fed through independent waterworks – 52, 39, 37, 32, 26 and 12. Water Works 39 receives canal water from Kajauli Water Works and various tube wells spread across the city. Water Works 39 then supplies water to other waterworks. The canal water that is received from Kajauli is treated at the water treatment plant of Water Works 39.

Currently, the city has a per capita supply of about 245 litres per day and water availability is 10 hours per day in urban areas and 6-8 hours per day in rehabilitated colonies. Regarding the distribution of water in the city, a peculiar problem faced is that water supply in the northern sectors remains modest while the other half suffers from a substantial shortage of water. This disparity is attributed to the relatively dense population in the southern sectors as against the sparsely populated northern sectors. With full commissioning of the project, Chandigarh will get an additional 29 mgd of water, which will take the total water supplied in the city to 112 mgd. The additional water supply would meet the demand of the city for the next 30 years. Besides providing direct benefit of increasing water supply, the 24×7 water project will help minimise water wastage in the city.

Progress so far

In September 2018, the 24×7 Manimajra water supply project in Chandigarh was approved by the board of directors of Chandigarh Smart City Limited. The project was to be implemented by the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh. It has been developed under the Smart Cities Mission at an investment of about Rs 750 million. The project has been developed in two phases. The scope of work included the upgrade of water supply infrastructure, the development of seven overhead tanks and the installation of smart meters. The expenditure on the core component of the project, comprising Phase I, was expected to be around Rs 550 million. The remaining amount of Rs 200 million was to be spent on the installation of smart meters. This project was launched as a pilot and proof of concept for the bigger project that aimed at making the water supply in the entire city 24×7.

Under Phases V and VI of the Kajauli water pipeline project, which will establish 24×7 water supply in Chandigarh, the work of desilting the water connecting tank along the Bhakra main line is being done on a war footing. The silt is being removed from the water using a super suction machine, following which the tank will be connected with two additional pipelines that will carry an additional 40 mgd of water to Chandigarh. From this additional water, the cities of Panchkula and Chandimandir will also receive their share. French firm Egis International, has been appointed as a project management consultant for the project.

The completed works include testing of the pumping machinery at Jandpur and releasing of electricity connection. The pump house has also been made entirely functional. The work on a 15 mgd water treatment plant, raw water storage tanks and an underground reservoir has also been completed at the Sector 39 waterworks. As of February 2019, the final trial for supplying raw water from Kajauli and Jandpur to the Sector 39 waterworks was to be undertaken.

This much-anticipated 24×7 water supply project has already missed two deadlines. The original deadline of April 30, 2018 was later revised to October 2018. Operational delays, delays on the part of contractors and the lack of interdepartmental coordination have been cited as reasons for delays encountered in the implementation of the project.

Cost economics

The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation has incurred an expenditure of nearly Rs 3 billion on the project. Of this, around Rs 1.96 billion was provided to the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority for laying pipelines and for other works, while Rs 0.23 billion was spent on setting up a water supply line from Kajauli to the Sector 39 waterworks, Rs 0.18 billion on a water treatment plant and Rs 0.45 billion on Jandpur.

Future plan

Automation in provisioning of water networks is being sought along with the vision of 24×7 water supply. Automation will also help decrease the quantum of unaccounted water by identifying losses, and ensure better surveillance and monitoring of water received and pumped from different waterworks, and efficient operations and maintenance of pumping machinery. It will also generate data for MIS for cost-effective decision-making, reduce manpower requirement, lower recurring costs and make the water supply system more reliable. The problem of disparity in water distribution in the city is also likely to be resolved.

Chandigarh is looking to transform itself into a smart city. In this context, the city’s water needs and demands are expected to rise substantially. The authorities in Chandigarh are cognisant of this issue and are moving towards achieving their vision of 24×7 water supply. However, the fact that two deadlines for the project have already been breached indicates that the project is facing several challenges. Clearly, the authorities need to resolve these issues and deliver the project so as to ensure round-the-clock water supply in Chandigarh.