A group of citizens from Andheri (East) have launched a zero-leakage drive that combines constant monitoring and reporting of pipeline bursts with applying pressure on civic officials to attend to them quickly.
The K-East ward citizens have formed a 10-member core group which keeps a vigil in the area with the help of a network of locals. On spotting leaks or pipeline bursts, a complaint is registered with the civic water helpline, 108, and one of the core members informs the local water department staff.
“Over time, we have developed a rapport with the water department staff, and whenever a complaint is received by us, we forward it to them and they ensure it is attended to,” said James John, a core group member and coordinator of Action for good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI), K-East ward.
The complaint registered on the helpline takes at least three days to be addressed, but the group has devised a mechanism by which the complaints are passed on directly to the concerned junior or sub-engineer and the problem is attended to within 24 to 48 hours.
The group has also put in place a feedback system under which the water department engineer reverts to the core group members after completing repairs. The member then checks with the locals on whether the repair has been done satisfactorily.
On an average, there are 250 major pipe bursts or leaks in the city every year — an incident every 36 hours — each of which affect around 10 lakh citizens who face water cuts ranging in duration from a few hours to two days. Most of these leakages are due to old pipelines and result in seepage of dirty water.
Civic officials have welcomed the initiative. “We do not have the manpower needed to keep a check on the entire ward. Hence, these citizens are of great help,” said a junior engineer of the department.
The water team meets periodically and also has meetings with the local engineers of the water department at least twice a month.
The group also undertakes focused drives in burst-prone areas. “We launched the zero-leakage drive on Andheri-Kurla road recently and got as many as 18 leakages repaired. This road is prone to pipeline leaks due to heavy vehicular traffic,” said Ravi Nair, a member of the group.