City's water pipelines lying unprotected for the past year
For the past one-year, the water pipelines that supply water to the entire city are lying unmanned, vulnerable to contamination and water theft.
In 2009, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) gave the Rs 196-cr project to BVG Krystal Joint Venture (BKJV) firm. Glitches came to the fore only last May, when the contract was terminated. So, while the civic body has been trying to reduce the cost and find a cheaper solution, the pipelines have been left unguarded.
Rajeev Jalota, additional municipal commissioner, Water Supply and Projects, said, “We are building a stronger and more effective security system, after studying the vulnerable spots and locations near the mains. We plan to install CCTV cameras. No security guards will be appointed.” A tender to protect the mains at the cost of Rs 15 crore was announced last June. “If the pipelines can be manned within a budget of Rs 15 crore, why should we pay Rs 196 crore? Our senior officers have personally visited the mains and shortlisted vulnerable spots,” added Jalota.
For Rs 195 crore, BVG Krystal Joint Venture was given two-year contract in 2009 for the protection of pipelines, reservoirs and pumping stations and the adjoining land owned by the hydraulic engineering department. They were supposed to construct compound walls, fence them and develop gardens on the land. The proposal also included posting security guards for surveillance. Similar work was to be carried out in M East ward after water theft was reported from the area.
According to records, the company appointed over 3,000 security guards to protect the water mains from threat and encroachment.
“When their contract expired in May last year, the seniors were not quite convinced with the work. They reviewed the work and are in the process of arranging for better security with minimal expenditure,” an official from the BMC’s water department said, on condition of anonymity.
Contrary to what the company claimed, there were fewer guards near the mains than necessary. Most of the expenses were shown under repair works. “They were supposed to build compound walls, maintain afforestation, prohibit unauthorised encroachment and provide patrolling at water pipelines — Ghatkopar high level, Ghatkopar low level, Bhandup, Powai, Trombay low level reservoir and Vihar Pumping. None of this was done,” he added.
Meanwhile, the company’s work is still being reviewed. Rahul Shewale, standing committee chairman, BMC, said, “Due to the shoddy work done by the company, the areas remain largely unprotected over the past one year. The authorities should plan something as soon as possible. I have already informed the officials to carry out the company’s audit,” said Shewale. Despite repeated attempts to get in touch with the officials from Krystal, the remained unavailable for comment.