Over a week after the damage to pipelines at Kajauli waterworks affected the supply to Chandigarh and SAS Nagar, it is now being theorised that the size of new pipelines being laid by the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) may have played a part in it.
GMADA is laying pipelines for phases 5 and 6 of the project, around 25km from Chandigarh, in Punjab, with a diameter of 2.2 metres (7 feet 4 inches) even when the land and the project report - prepared by the Chandigarh municipal corporation and approved by the Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organization (CPHEEO) - stipulates a width of 1.6m (5 ft 4 in). The pipes for phases 3 and 4 are 1.5m.
It was during digging for the wider pipe on August 20 that an earth-moving machine hit the phase-4 pipe, also damaging the adjacent phase-3 pipe.
Phases 5 and 6 are being carried out by GMADA at a cost of Rs 156 crore to bring 40 MGD (million gallons daily) water from the Bhakra Main Line (BML) at Kajauli to be supplied exclusively to SAS Nagar town, which has a shortfall of 10MGD against a demand of 22, and adjoining areas of the district.
Officials on the spot confided that the contractor working on the new phases dug too deep, exposing and damaging the older pipes. A visit to Maankheri village, where pipes have been damaged, further revealed that the land acquired for phases 5 and 6 was not sufficient to lay wider pipes. It's learnt that when the Chandigarh MC had objected, GMADA officials simply said the existing pipes were leaking from various places.
Speaking to HT, RP Gupta, executive engineer, public health department, SAS Nagar, said, "Prior to the laying of phase-5 and -6 pipes, we never faced any problems of leakage. As GMADA did not take the precautionary measures, the existing lines were exposed and the earth under them got eroded."
Chandigarh MC executive engineer Sham Lal added, "As the phase-4 pipe leaked, earth under the phase-3 line was swept away."
Quizzed on the matter, Ashok Virdi, executive engineer, GMADA, said, "We wanted to utilise optimum land so used bigger pipes. Also, the pipelines of older phases are in a zigzag pattern, so we faced problems. In any case, the pipelines (of phases 3 and 4) are of pre-stress concrete; damage would have occurred sooner or later. We are using mild-steel pipes, which have a longer life."