A year after the much-awaited Middle Vaitarna dam project, which is expected to augment the city’s water supply by 455 million litres per day, was completed; it has hit another stumbling block -- an incomplete bridge on the Vaitarna River is delaying the commissioning of the project.
After missing its June 23 deadline, the Public Works Department, which is undertaking the construction of the bridge on Mokhada-Khodala road, has now set a new date of completion, which is after the monsoons. Hence, the delay only means that the heavy rains that have hit the catchments this year won’t be put to good use, thereby depriving the city of the additional water supply. Water supply from the project now only seems likely after the monsoons next year.
The ambitious project worth over Rs 2,000 crore and located in Shahapur, Thane district, commenced in October 2008 and was completed in May 2012. It was expected that the additional water would be supplied from October 2012 after the monsoons had filled the dam to full capacity. Instead, the incomplete bridge became a hurdle and only 70 million litres of water was available.
When Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had visited the dam in May 2013, PWD officials had set a June 23 deadline. After PWD missed the cut-off date, Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte and Additional Municipal Commissioner Rajiv Jalota sent reminder letters to the PWD about the delay. “We are in touch with PWD officials and hope to commence the additional supply of 455 million litres water from October 2013,” Rajiv Jalota said.
Upset with the hold-up, Mayor Sunil Prabhu said, “I will write to the chief minister and demand action against the PWD officials who are responsible for delaying the construction of the bridge. The delay is depriving the city of the additional water supply.” He also said that the PWD is solely responsible for the delay, as the BMC has completed its work.
Currently, the city is facing a shortage of 600 MLD (million litres daily) of water. The city receives 3,400 MLD of water against its demand of 4,200. After the Middle Vaitarna project, the city is expected to get 3,855 MLD. The Chitale Committee had recommended the project in 1993.
Despite repeated attempts, PB Jadhav, executive engineer, PWD, was unavailable for comment.
While the rains had already arrived in the city by June 7, a letter signed by the secretary of PWD, Shyamalkumar Mukherjee, dated June 20 states that he had asked his chief engineer to get the work completed before monsoon. He claimed that he had asked his engineers to complete the work of the bridge on a war footing. But, it seems the secretary failed to realise this while he wrote the letter, monsoons had not only arrived in the city, but had witnessed the highest June rainfall in 28 years.