The Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT) work for Rs. 217 crore begins in Leh, the biggest project in the history of Ladakh. UIDSSMT is one of the components of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission (JNNURM), a single largest initiative of GoI for planned development of cities and towns.
The project was actually designed in 2009 by a Delhi based company Tetra Tech India Limited; Leh is the first district in Jammu and Kashmir to get such a huge project.
The four major projects included in this are augmentation and reorganization of drinking water facilities which cost Rs. 70.48 crore and Rs. 59.39 crore for the sewerage system, solid waste management of Rs. 10.94 crore and road network of Leh town worth Rs. 76.53 crore keeping the vision for the next 30 years till 2042.
With the beginning of the work of this grand project, most of the common Ladakhi’s are yet to understand the merits of the said project. While interacting with some of the shopkeepers and some local residents of Leh market, we observed that many of them are skeptical about the fact that this project would be a success and sustain in the cold freezing winters of Ladakh.
When asked people around Leh market, a medical store owner said, “I doubt the success of the sewerage and water pipes as it is indeed a huge challenge to avoid freezing in an area where the temperature drops to -20 sometimes”.
The drinking water pipes and sewerage pipes would be laid at around 2 to 5 meters deep (below freezing point) and in slope and hilly regions where digging would be a difficult task, pipes will be wrapped in glass wool that protects the pipes from outer cold temperature and avoids breakage.
On one hand where people are doubtful about the freezing of the pipes the huge challenge that they witness is the already scarcity of water in Leh.
The main sources of water would be Sindhu River and Gyalung (spring water source). The whole Leh region will be divided into 12 zones from Gangles to Agling with one service reservoir in each zone. In some areas, these have already been installed.
Engineer Tashi Tundup said that for utilizing the underground water, we will be digging infiltration wells. The water would be supplied to each household for 1 to 2 hours every day with equal distribution. When asked about the challenges that the residents of proper Leh market are facing, he said “For any big or small project, there will be difficulties at the beginning but we must focus at the long-term benefits of the project. We are providing alternatives for drinking water supply through water tankers”.
Haji Abdul Aziz, a shopkeeper also believes that at the initial stage of any work we face difficulties but we need to understand the pros and cons of the work. Earlier we had to face difficulties as in summers the streams in the market area gets blocked and water overflows and mess up the whole area. But with this project, I hope that we will not face such problems in future”.
When asked Engineer Tundup about the possibility of unnecessary use of water he said, “We have 2 parallel lines already in used till maney tselding and are including one more parallel line keeping in the target of 80,000 population by 2014. We are charging revenue for house to house water supply at present and will be continuing the same even after the completion of the project. It is the responsibility of the people not to misuse the available water. We would also organize awareness camps regarding the proper usage of water. At present we are supplying 40 litres per capita per day and after this project, we will supply 135 litres per capita per day.”
Rashid Ahmed, Assistant Executive Engineer said, “Regarding the sewerage pipes the sizes are of different diameters of which Distribution line of size 150mm to 350mm also called as MP3 or Non pressure RCC pipes, is the line which brings household connections and connects it with the Trunkline of size 350mm to 450mm and is the main sewer that receives flow from many tributaries and connects it with the Gravity Line that ranges from 400 mm to 1000 mm and is the largest size pipe.
He added that the depth of the pipe depends on the slope of the area like the Leh market is the only place where such deep digging is required to maintain the level for smooth flow of water. To avoid blockade and increase the water pressure there would be 22 intermediate pumping stations to push the waste. There are three main pumping stations one at Housing Colony, another near VIP Guest House Airport road and one near STP Agling.
He further added that there are very rare chances of blockade and freezing and in case such a thing happens there are manholes after every 30 meter distance and it may not be large enough to admit a person but is suitable for access by cleaning rods and machineries.
In the first phase, the sewage pipes will be installed in all the lanes beginning from Gangles village as per the plan. In the 2nd phase the pipes will be laid from petrol pump connecting to Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) near TRP Camp Agling with the capacity to treat an average daily flow of 6.5 million liters per day (mld) where all these sewerage water would be treated and the solid waste would be used as fertilizers and sold to farmers at affordable prices to generate income. The treated water will be used for horticulture to reduce the load on fresh water. In winter, the treated water will be released or discharged into the Indus River.
Regarding the work status, he said that we have already procured ductile pipes and iron rods from some companies and rest would reach here after reopening of the Zojila road and the work is beginning from main market Leh. Extra machineries and manpower will be used and the project will complete in three years.
Whether the project would prove itself and be a huge success in the long run and come up to the expectations of the people, we all have to wait and witness its functioning.