Sixty six British-era underground water tanks that could collectively stock up to 15 million liters of water, lie unused in prominent locations of the island city such as the JJ school of Arts, St George hospital and Prince of Wales Museum. Though the civic body has turned a blind eye towards the tanks for years, they could prove to be of great help and serve as storage tanks for rainwater harvesting projects.
Shiv Sena nominated corporator Avkash Jadhav demanded these tanks be restored and conserved as heritage structures as their construction dates back to the British era. He said these tanks must be saved from being dismantled, encroached upon or misused.
Jadhav’s efforts began after he saw display board in the Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghrahlay — formerly known as Prince of Wales Museum — stating facts about the static tank in the premises. After realising a major civic amenity was being wasted,Jadhav asked for a record of such static tanks in the island city.
A survey conducted by the coporator, along with a few civic officials of the wards and water department, highlighted the negligence of the civic body towards the already-existing infrastructure. Of the 66 tanks, 13 are either non-traceable or are enclosed by structures, leaving only 53 currently traceable. Each of these tanks have a capacity of 2.5 lakh litres. One tank can store water equal to 25 fire brigade water tankers.
“The recent Metro building fire and the fire at Express Towers, Nariman Point, made our fire department struggle to find a source of water around, whereas tanks were available at the museum and also at BPT garden in the area. Unfortunately, as these tanks are maintained, the fire department was not aware of them. The fire department should be made aware of their existence and concerned ward officers should be allocated the responsibility for maintaining them after they are restored,” said Jadhav.
“These static tanks are in a good condition and were used for fire-fighting during the British-era. However, they are not being used currently as the fire department has been provided with filling points,” said officials from the water department.
“In my service with the fire department, we have not used such tanks and are not aware of them. If such a facility is available, then we will definitely explore its use as filling points,” said chief fire officer PS Rahangdale.