The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Rs. 480-crore plan to stop water pilferage and improve the quality of water supplied to the city is literally going down the drain.
Alarmed at the nearly 25% water pilferage taking place through its pipelines, the BMC had, in 2009, decided to improve its distribution system by sanctioning Rs. 480 crore to stop pilferage and contamination through its pipelines. But, a year later, according to figures presented by the civic body in the internal report of the civic hydraulic department, the pilferage still stands at 25% while the amount already spent is whopping Rs. 364 crore.
The BMC’s master plan was meant to save 700 million litres per day (MLD). To maintain, operate and repair the water distribution system, the civic body had divided the city into 16 zones and appointed contractors to carry out works at an estimated cost of Rs. 30 crore for each zone. The contractors were to carry out work to minimise leakages by replacing old pipelines, laying new water mains, constructing sluice valve chambers and repairing and fixing fire hydrants.
Till December 2010, of the Rs. 480 crore sanctioned for the job, Rs. 364 had already been spent. Of this, Rs. 52.43 crore has been spent to curb leakages, while Rs. 78 crore has been spent on replacing old pipelines.
Corporators don’t believe leakages and contamination levels have gone down. Rajul Patel, Shiv Sena corporator from Andheri, said, “The BMC should recruit labourers to do this work instead of awarding contracts worth crores of rupees.”
Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta, in charge of the water department, was not available for comment. A senior official from the water department, requesting anonymity, said, “We are trying our best to curb leakages and reduce contamination levels.”
Hindustan Times had reported in August 2010 about the contamination levels in each ward in the city and also in reservoirs.
The findings of the Environmental Status report (ESR) 2009-2010 shows water contamination across all 24 wards in the city had increased to 26.10% in 2009-2010 from 13.80% in 2008-2009. Another finding is that the contamination percentage at water reservoirs had doubled from 10.10% in 2008-09 to 22.60% in 2009-10.