The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has failed to crack down on the illegal water connections in the city even as residents will face acute water shortage due to no water supply on Thursdays (starting January 31). Following an order by Mukta Tilak, Pune mayor, to the water department of the PMC to look into illegal connections across the city, the department was to hold a meeting and begin a drive. According to Pravin Gedam, an official of the water department of PMC, “There are at least 30,000-35,000 illegal water connections in the city and only 40,000 metered connections. Also, many societies use motors to increase the water pressure, this also will be checked. The use of motor pumps leads to at least 5 to 10 per cent loss in water pressure in the supply lines of the pumping stations.” “We were to conduct a major drive and take strict action against illegal water connections, however, we have been facing problems with the maintenance of the old main trunk line, from Parvati to Bajirao road, which is 35 years old. It is a 12,000 millimetre valve and one of the major valves was not in function. After scrutiny, we found out that the gear box had turned rusty and was not working properly, hence, the water supply had to be stopped to the city,” Gedam added. The move to stop water supply was taken by the PMC in order to conduct ‘maintenance work’. While the civic body has been maintaining that the water cut is strictly to replace the 35-year-old main trunk line, running from Parvati to Bajirao road, with a new pipeline in order to improve the flow of the water supply, city activists have questioned the PMC’s move which comes at a time when the city is facing the threat of water shortage.Vivek Velankar, activist, said, “This maintenance work every Thursday with no water supply is very suspicious, as since the past six months there was no need for maintenance, then why now? Maintenance every week is in fact another way of implementing a water cut, which the mayor had promised would not take place for the next few months. This move will irk residents.”Earlier, Saurabh Rao, Pune municipal commissioner, had said, “The civic administration has taken several steps to use water judiciously in view of the scarcity as the stock in the four dams — Khadakwasla, Panshet, Varasgaon and Temghar — that supply water to the city, is inadequate.” Addressing a press conference along with Tilak on January 24, the civic chief had said that PMC will stop water supply to swimming tanks and washing centres in the city and not give permission for laying new cement concrete roads.However, Tilak had assured the residents that there would be no further water cut in the city for the next few months though the irrigation department had instructed the civic body to lift 1,150 million litres per day (MLD) of water as against the present 1,350 MLD.