As the city gets ready to battle a dry summer, the BMC’s flimsy administrative decisions — reflected in its budgets over the years — may come back to harm Mumbai. From announcing a mega project to provide 24x7 water supply only to slow it down to the point of being scrapped — the BMC’s indecisiveness showed again in this year’s budget when it made little mention of the project.
For the year 2016-17, the civic body allocated Rs5,887.11 crore for water and sewerage projects. According to data available with the water department, in the past 10 years, the civic body has launched various projects costing more than Rs4,000 crore to provide 24/7 water supply to the city, stop leakages, theft, contamination and achieve 100% metering. But most of these projects have hit a dead end owing to failure in execution.
The projects include Sujal Mumbai Abhiyan, Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) for 100% metering and Water Distribution Improvement Programme (WDIP). While Sujal Mumbai Abhiyan and AMR scheme were launched in 2007 and 2008 respectively, WDIP was started in 2014 for better water management. Officials blamed inadequate data and a lack of basic infrastructure in houses for this.
Under Sujal Mumbai, authorities focused only on the construction of a water tunnel and not on individual connections. AMR covered nearly 89,000 housing societies, but those residing in chawls and slums were ignored because the cost of the meters was high.
The civic body then launched another WDIP scheme in 2014, but this is also stuck. Under this scheme, the BMC promised to start a customer call centre by May 2015, but it was delayed.
A senior civic official from the water department said, “We have planned so many things for better water supply, but changing officials at the top, a lack of coordination and poor implementation have affected all the projects.”
According to available data, there are currently 3.27 lakh water connections in Mumbai. But this data is based on properties paying taxes and old metered connections in south Mumbai and hence is very limited. The BMC hopes under WDIP, every house that requires a water connection will get surveyed.