The state government said it would ask the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to expedite the replacement of Mumbai's century-old water pipelines and remove slums built on them.
Reacting to Hindustan Times' report on Friday that the civic Environmental Status Report had revealed an alarming rise in drinking water contamination — 26.10 per cent in 2009-10 compared to 13.80 in 2008-09 — Mumbai Suburban Guardian Minister Naseem Khan said the government would push the BMC to speed up the work.
"The state and Central governments made sure there was enough money for the project. It is not progressing as fast as we'd like. I will take a review meeting next week," Khan said. He added that encroachments around pipelines would be rehabilitated to avoid accidents and leaks, which are the main causes of contamination. "We have decided to give slums built up to 2010 the status of project-affected persons, which means that their residents are entitled to rehabilitation," Khan said.
Municipal Commissioner Swadheen Kshatriya said Additional Municipal Commissioner Anil Diggikar would draw up a plan to reduce contamination.
Diggikar said complaints about contamination have been coming mainly from the western suburbs as a few treatment plants there are not able to pump away sewage water fully, leading to it entering water pipelines. "We are working on it," said Diggikar.
Contamination levels have risen in all 24 wards and range between 19 per cent and 39 per cent. The complaints are mainly from Juhu, Andheri, Vile Parle, Borivli and Dahisar. Civic officials said they would undertake ward-level meetings to address the problem.
Health Minister Suresh Shetty said: "We are conducting a study on water contamination and untreated sewage, and looking at long-term solutions. The focus will be on urban centres, where almost 80 per cent of the sewage remains untreated. Its proximity to water pipelines is what causes contamination."
(With inputs by Sayli Udas Mankikar)