The six lakes that supply water to the city may have overflowed, but don’t be surprised if you don’t get sufficient water because the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) hydraulic department is facing a severe staff shortage.
The hydraulic department handles the city’s water distribution network and is responsible for maintenance and repairs as well as planning. Its staff also operates the pipeline valves.
Currently, the department is 40 per cent under-staffed. Of the 12,015 posts, around 4,999 are lying vacant.
“There is a shortage of staff. We are trying to handle the situation with the limited staff. There are a few operational difficulties that we hope to resolve soon,” said Vinay Deshpande, chief hydraulic engineer.
One of the biggest problems the department is facing is that several senior officials experienced in the functioning of the 4,000-km-long complex network of pipelines and filtration plants, one of the biggest in Asia, have retired recently, and many others are due to retire in the next two months.
It needs 11 deputy hydraulic engineers but has only four, of whom one will retire in the end of October. The deputy hydraulic engineers are second in command and head different departments such as maintenance, planning, suburbs and island city.
“Losing senior staff is a problem. Many other engineers don’t know how the distribution system works and its loopholes, which leads to leads to poor water distribution, though there is sufficient water stock in the reservoirs,” an official from the department said, requesting anonymity.
Of the 405 posts for junior engineers, 184 posts lie vacant. It’s the junior engineer who take rounds of their respective wards, attend to minor problems in the distribution lines and check for illegal connections and water thefts.
Senior officials from the hydraulic department said no junior engineers are willing to work in the department. “Engineers think that if they work in the water department, they will be harassed and beaten as no amount of water is enough for the public,” the official explained.
The other crucial posts vacant are that of the staff who operates pipeline valves. There are 800 valve operations to be performed every day across the city: This section faces a 20 per cent staff shortage.