Pune water tanker mafia: All tankers to be monitored with GPRS, says Rao
This will help monitor the movement of water tankers and prevent the diversion of water for sale at high commercial rates.pune Updated: Apr 21, 2018 14:43 IST
Newly appointed municipal commissioner Saurabh Rao on Friday directed the information technology (IT) cell of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to bring 100 private water tankers under the ambit of integrated general packet radio service (GPRS) monitoring system. This will help monitor the movement of water tankers and prevent the diversion of water for sale at high commercial rates.
According to Rao, around 500 tankers are plying in the city, of which 200 belong to PMC and are fitted with the GPS system. Roughly 300 water tanker are private who pay Rs 500 as water fees and supply water to private residential areas at commercial rates.
Given the inadequate and inequitable distribution of water by PMC, the demand for supply of water by tankers has been rising every year. This has led to the exploitation of residents in many parts of the city, notably eastern Pune, by the water tanker operators who have been demanding extortionist rates for water supply. Over the last five years, the demand for tanker supply has increased from 1.42 lakh tanker trips in 2012-13 to 1.98 lakh tanker trips in 2017-18. Each tanker carries 10,000 litres of water on an average.
Taking cognizance of HT’s special report on April 19, ‘Pune’s tanker ‘mafia’ at helm’, Rao said action is being taken by the administration to prevent the exploitation of residents by tanker operators.
“The information given to me is that 100 tankers are being run individually wherein they have their own servers. We are looking at different ways as to how we can integrate them with our GPRS system. We have taken a joint meeting and will streamline the process ,” he said.
When asked about the high prices being charged by water tanker operators, Rao said, “Once the listing and distribution system is streamlined, water prices will automatically go down and the results will follow. ” The issue of tracking water tanker movement with the help of GPS was also raised by mayor Mukta Tilak during her review meeting with Rao on Friday.
Tilak told journalists at a press conference that she advised Rao to ensure the creation of a mechanism whereby all the tankers would be linked to one server instead of different private channels. “It is indispensable for PMC to have a strong control over all the operators who provide water through tankers,” she said.
“PMC provides 200 tankers for water supply in the fringe areas of the city. All these tankers must be linked to the same GPS system,” Tilak said.
A civic official said that initially 100 water tankers will be covered and in a phase-wise manner all the remaining will have the GPRS facility.
PMC has 10 tanker filling points in different parts of the city and its attempts to install CCTV cameras at the stations to monitor the number of tankers serviced per day has failed as the cameras were found to have been mysteriously destroyed. Social activists and residents’ association have alleged rampant corruption in the tanker monitoring register and have demanded investigations and third party audit of water supply, instrumentation and distribution.
Daljeet Goraya, National Institute of Bank Management (NIBM) Annexe Citizens’ Watch Group member and secretary, Ganga Kingston Co-operative Housing Society in Mohammadwadi, said that the absence of GPS tracking system in the water tankers allows for corruption and diversion of water for commercial purposes instead of residential use. “The entire water network must be digitised,” he said, adding that IT expertise was easily available in the city.