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Mumbai reels under water crisis, tanker lobbies reap fortunes

The tanker lobby is reaping Rs 100 cr when the Maximum City is reeling under water shortage, reports Naresh Kamath.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2006 23:14 IST

Water scarcity may cause huge hardships to the Mumbaikars but for the water tanker lobby, it is big business running into an annual turnover of approximately Rs 100 crores.

With large-scale construction coupled with a growing population but a limited water supply, the situation will only get better for tanker operators. A completely unregulated sector, already, there are approximately 5000 tankers operating in the city, and earning approximately Rs 25 lakh daily. Chances are with the city’s burgeoning population; the numbers will only go up.

Past incidents show that it is not always potable water that these tankers supply. What makes the entire business even more deadly is that as of now, there is no agency regulating the water being supplied by such tankers to housing colonies. The BMC Hydraulic Department, citing lack of staff and resources, says tankers do not come under its jurisdiction while the civic Pest Control Department concentrates its energy only on maintaining the condition of wells. “We basically ensure that wells should be kept clean and there should be no mosquito breeding in them,” said Deepak Adsul, Insecticide Officer.

There are approximately 15,000 old wells and newly dug bore-wells in the city from where the tankers are supposed to draw the their quota. While the BMC is firm that the water is unsuitable for drinking, the tanker owners say they take all precautions to ensure clean water.

“Our firm makes it a point to always get the water checked in the laboratory and only then we draw from the place,” said Sriprakash Malpani, owner, Malpani Filter Water Supply, who has been in this business for the last 30 years.

The Public Health Department of the civic body is trying to regulate the trade but with no success. “We are trying to give licenses and have asked Regional Transport Office (RTO) for details but they are not cooperating,” said Dr Jayant Thanekar, Executive Health Officer.

However Jasbeer Singh Beera, owner, J M Water supplies says BMC should first get its act together before targeting it. “Let the BMC supply water to the citizens and then talk. We only help the citizens during shortages,” said Beera.


First Published: Nov 15, 2006 23:14 IST