The Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) has spent about Rs 1,000 crore on the Narmada pipeline to bring water to the parched city, but four years after the construction deadline, water problem continues to plague residents.
The contract for the pipeline under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, a city-modernisation scheme of the Government of India, was given to three companies and expected to be completed by 2012. However, HT discovered that one of the contractors, Indian Hume Pipe Co Ltd, which was assigned wards 11-16 and 66-70, subcontracted the work to AB Constructions.
These wards are facing water crisis because many of them still don’t have pipelines. Areas that do are in no better shape because of use of substandard materials in the construction.
“The pipelines are above-ground, they are already broken and no water has ever been supplied through them in the past two years,” said Sunil Srivastava, a resident of ward 15.
Response to an RTI inquiry by Ashish Bhargava revealed that Indian Hume Pipe was not permitted to issue a subcontract and that it could be charged Rs 2 lakh per week penalty in case of delay. However, it was not penalised by the civic body for the contract violations.
Another firm roped in to test the water pipelines, DHV India Ltd, allegedly failed to perform its duty as well.
“I have lived here forever and haven’t seen any pressure testing or even hydro testing done to check the water supply in these pipelines and moreover there is no use of it, they are burnt, broken and the water supply is of very low pressure, you cannot sustain on it,” said Vnita Agnihotri, a resident of ward 66.
In colonies for Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims, though the pipelines were laid, they lack the ability to record readings and residents are charged irrespective of actual usage.
“The BMC said we will have to take a bulk connection (for the entire area) or else we won’t get the Narmada pipeline, but we have to pay a huge amount even if we are getting limited water,” said Dinesh Kushwaha, a resident of ward 11.
About Rs 36 crore has already been spent in these areas, but work is far from complete.
“We have completed 85% of the work and we just need about Rs 100 crore more to finish the project,” said AR Panwar, project in-charge.
However, in the last mayor-in-council meeting on water supply conditions in January, the BMC decided to halt work on the Narmada pipeline because of lack of funds.