If the data obtained from the hydraulic department is anything to go by, the number of visible leakages detected in the water pipelines across the city has increased by 20% in the past five years.
While 25,123 leakages were detected in 2009, the number has risen to 30,100 till October 2013.
The figures, however, do not account for the leakages of underground pipelines, which flow directly into the nullahs and sewer lines, as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has no mechanism to identify them.
Officials claim that the number does not equate to the amount of water lost.
“Even a minor dripping leak and a major pipeline burst are counted as leakages. The increase in the number of leakages does not mean that an increasing quantity of water is being lost,” said an official from the hydraulic engineer’s department, on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Experts claim the civic body has failed in bridging the gap between the demand and supply of water in the city.
Citing the Rs2,207-crore Middle Vaitarna dam project as a case in point, Nitai Mehta, managing trustee of Praja Foundation, said, “While hundreds of crores of rupees are spent on increasing the capacity of water supply sources, the cost-effective measures that could help plug leakages in the distribution system are ignored”.
The Praja Foundation, in its white paper, released in April had stated how there had been a 60% rise in the number of water supply-related complaints such as leakages, water shortage and contamination, between 2011 and 2012.
Several projects planned by the civic body to improve the distribution network have been pending for years with little or no progress.
“The leakages in the distribution system could have an adverse impact on people’s health. Areas in island city such as Byculla, Tardeo, Girgaum are the worst affected because of the old water pipelines,” said Mehta.