Water tankers illegally provide water to hospital

While the enduring dry run continues for many Navi Mumbaikars, MiD DAY has discovered that around 40 tankers of water are being illegally disbursed daily to Fortis hospital at Mulund by private suppliers. When we followed these tankers, many of them were found filling water unlawfully from Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) water tank at sector 10 of Airoli. The others were replenished from a public well near a petrol pump at sector 4.

Tankers supplying water illegally to Fortis hospital
Demand and supply: Tankers supplying water illegally to Fortis hospital. Pics/Sameer Markande

On Thursday and Friday, MiD DAY tailed some of these tankers. At 11.30 am on the first day, a tanker (registration no. MH- 06 AC- 3607) of Patil water suppliers was found emptying itself in the water tank of the hospital. At 11.55 am, the tanker left for Airoli and reached the NMMC water tank at sector 10 at 12.15 pm. Attendants at the reservoir, who are contract labourers, then started siphoning water from the tank to the tanker. After filling up, the tanker headed for the hospital and reached there at 1.15 pm.

Tankers supplying water illegally to Fortis hospital

Free run
Surprisingly, no NMMC official was present at the Airoli tank to keep a tab on the entry of the tankers. No one was seen checking or issuing receipts to the vehicles. When we probed the attendants, they refused to reveal anything.

However, barely five minutes later, some outsiders – allegedly water suppliers – descended on the scene and requested us not to write anything on the matter, claiming their business is legal. However, they failed to furnish any receipts when asked to do so.

A driver of one of the tankers disclosed that around four to five of these vehicles make six to seven roundtrips a day that results in delivery of a minimum of 24 tankers to the hospital from Airoli water tank every day. In addition, 15 tankers of water are being supplied from an open well in sector 4.

At 12.15 pm tanker (MH- 04 FD 336) of Sonu water supplier, left the hospital and reached the well – that was visibly filthy – at 12.40 pm. The tanker was then fortified from the well with the help of a motor pump, which was kept near the well. The tanker reached the hospital at 2 pm. In addition, tankers of Pratik supplier were also seen provisioning the hospital illegally.

There are around four to five private suppliers in Airoli area, who provide water to Fortis hospital every day. Since the hospital requires treated water along with the regular provision, the water suppliers reportedly started drawing of water from Airoli tank illegally. On Thursday, MiD DAY spotted five tankers supplying water to the hospital from the Airoli tank, which is around five kilometres away from the medical institute.
The hospital pays the suppliers Rs 4,500 for a tanker of treated water and Rs 2,200 for one with untreated water.

Eyes closed?
Surprisingly, NMMC officials pleaded ignorance about the whole matter. “As per my information, no tanker has been allowed to supply water from our tank to any hospital. We have given a contract to a private supplier to operate the water tank. Since the receipt is issued from the contractor’s office, none of our officials are present beside the reservoir. However, we maintain records of the tankers that collect water from our tank,” said
Ajay Patil, branch engineer of water supply department, NMMC.

Madan Waghchoude, executive engineer of water supply department, NMMC, promised he would look into the matter and take action against people behind the racket. “I have removed unnecessary water pipes from the vicinity of the tank after MiD DAY brought this issue of illegal water supply to our notice. However, we will increase our vigilance to catch these water thieves red-handed,” he said.

What Fortis says
Fortis hospital washed its hands off the issue claiming it has signed up with some private contractors for water supply. “We have formed agreements with three to four private contractors, who have been asked to provide us treated water along with the regular supply.

It is their responsibility to fulfill their obligation while following the law. We have been told by the contractors that the water sources fall under the BMC’s jurisdiction. However, if we find that there is some illegality, we will immediately stop their tanker services,” said Dr Anil Jadhav, head of administration at Fortis hospital, Mulund. 

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