After an arterial, large-volume water tunnel at Malad was punctured while an illegal borewell was being dug, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is readying regulation to prevent a repeat.
It has prepared a circular banning borewell digging in the tunnel zone plus a buffer zone of 100 mtr – comprising 50 mtr on either side of the tunnel.
“For any request to dig a borewell, the ward office will have to first ensure the digging spot is not in the tunnel zone or the buffer zone,” said Vinay Deshpande, chief engineer, Hydraulic Department.
Water department officials said repairs on the Malad tunnel breach could take more than five days to complete since they haven’t yet located the damaged portion. “The area where the tunnel was punctured will have to re-excavated, so we can get a camera inside and understand the exact extent of damage,” said Vinay Deshpande, chief hydraulic engineer.
The breach occurred on February 14 on the Malad Marve Road, during the digging of a borewell inside the compound of an under-construction one-storied structure.
The 12-km tunnel, running from Liberty Garden to Charkop, supplies water to Malad, Goregaon, Kandivli and Jogeshwari, and is around 80 feet below the ground.
Water supply from Malad to Borivli will be affected for those five days, and pressure is expected to be minimal even after the work is complete.
“We hardly got water for 15 minutes today, that too at minimum pressure,” said Borivili housewife Harsha Joglekar. The two men arrested for the unauthorised digging, Vilas Kadam and Jagdish Talreja, were released on bail.
“The estimated Rs 25 lakh repair bill will be sent to the accused,” said Standing Committee Chairman Ravindra Waikar.
City teeters on brink of water crisis
Summer’s early arrival has brought with it the municipality’s most urgent challenge – how to manage its water stocks to last until July 15, when the monsoon hopefully breaks over the city.
On March 2, water stock in the city’s six lakes was 4.57 lakh million litres, which is far lower than the 6.68 lakh million litres that we had during the same time last year.
With the Irrigation department releasing more water to Mumbai from the two state-owned dams, Bhatsa and Upper Vaitarna, the BMC now supplies 2,900 million litres of water daily (MLD).
Due to deficient rainfall, reserves in dams supplying water to the city are depleting. A 15 per cent water cut is already in place across the city, and civic officials fear that may increase if our water position does not improve soon.
The BMC will begin artificial rainfall seeding in May. Agni Aviation, which was contracted for the exercise last monsoon, has been re-appointed.