Why pipe repairs in Mumbai's western suburbs took so long to fix

05 December,2023 07:11 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Prajakta Kasale

Pumping out water from conduit, which was leaking in multiple spots, while preventing landslides at excavated spot posed challenge to civic body team

Workers carry out repairs on the 1,800-mm-diameter pipeline at Andheri East

After four days, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has finished repairing the large pipeline that supplies water to lakhs of residents in Andheri, Vile Parle, Santacruz, Khar, Ghatkopar and Kurla. The supply of water resumed late on Monday evening but water pressure is expected to be low for at least a week. Residents have demanded action against those responsible for damaging the pipe.

On Thursday, the 1,800-mm-diameter water line near Seepz Gate No. 3 and Indian Oil Petrol Pump at Andheri East was damaged at multiple points while drilling work of the Metro 6 line was in progress. After temporary repair work was carried out, the BMC began fixing the line on Saturday morning and the work was expected to be completed by 8.30 am on Sunday. However, the work was completed by 1 pm on Monday. The water supply to some spots was supposed to resume by 6 pm but Andheri and Khar were the first to receive water about an hour later.


According to officials from the BMC's hydraulic and special engineering department, the pipeline runs about six meters below ground level. "The recent construction work and land filling make the geological grip relatively loose so soil was sliding into the pit. Water was being pumped out at the point of leakage. The challenge was pumping out water from the pipeline and at the same time preventing landslides at the spot excavated for the repair work," an
official said.

Workers carry out repairs on the 1,800-mm-diameter pipeline at Andheri East

The water line also was leaking at multiple spots and all these holes had to be closed after entering the empty water pipe. However, as removing all the water was impossible, it was not possible to carry out repairs from the inside. Therefore, two manholes were created in the water channel for external repairs and thus the work was completed externally.

Tankers used

Meanwhile, the civic body supplied water using its tankers, which made 37 rounds, as well as private ones, which made 81 rounds, in the affected areas. The administration faced constraints in view of the time required to fill the tankers and reach the citizens.

"After the repair of the aqueduct is completed, the process of filling the service reservoir will be started by creating sufficient water pressure in the aqueduct. By filling up the service reservoir, water will be supplied to K East, K West, H West, N and L sections in the evening in a phased manner. It may take some time for the water supply to start with adequate daily pressure. Therefore, citizens are kindly requested to exercise patience," a civic official told mid-day early on Monday.
In some areas, the BMC tankers made 69 rounds while private tankers made 177. But all proved inadequate as the affected areas were too large.

Notice to be issued to contractor

A civic official said, "The priority was to complete the repair work on the weekend. After the completion of leak repair work on Monday, the process of issuing a notice to the contractor concerned will be initiated. The total amount for damaging the water channel, cost incurred by all the systems for repairs, amount of wasted water and penalty as per rules will be calculated and the same will be recovered from the contractor concerned."

‘Where's the accountability?'

Bharat Shah, a Juhu resident, said, "The pipeline work was caused due to the contractor's negligence. Has anyone been penalised for the suffering of lakhs of residents for days? Is there any accountability or punishment? The BMC has to find the culprits, which include its staff. All Mumbaikars quietly suffered for days without water. The BMC is supposed to provide water to the people as everyone is paying water tax."

Madhu Vannier, secretary of Evershine Cosmic opposite Infinity Mall, Andheri, said, "We received 50 per cent water on Thursday and Friday but since Saturday, we haven't received a drop of water. We are paying R4,800 for a single tanker's water, which is higher than a market price of around R3,500. And of Monday, even tanker water was not available. People are waiting for the water supply to be restored."

Residents' woes

K P Singh, a resident of Maladhari Compound in Andheri, said, "Till now [9 pm on Monday], the water supply hasn't resumed and we haven't received any information from the BMC on when we will get water. We haven't received water since Friday and all the water in our small tanks has already been used up. I managed to get two gallons of water from my office. Our neighbours moved to their relatives as there isn't even bottled drinking water in nearby shops."

Poonam Gurnani, a resident of Gangotri Building in Khar West, said her building, which has 25 flats, somehow managed till Sunday evening with whatever stock was available in the main tank and buckets in houses. She said, "Tankers are either not available or they are asking for an exorbitant amount like R10,000. We bought bottled water for drinking but there is an issue regarding toilets as we do not have a bore well and cannot use non-potable water in our regular tanks. A few families managed to go to their relatives' houses nearby but others were facing a terrible situation. Our water timings are in the early morning. We are hoping it will resume by Tuesday; otherwise, we cannot stay here anymore."

Raj Gupta, a resident of Koldongri in Andheri East, said residents received water on Saturday and managed to buy 20-litre cans on Sunday morning. He added that not a single municipal tanker came to their area. "Residents didn't wash their clothes for two days and managed their kitchens with bottled water. I had to go to a wholesale distributor in Vile Parle to buy bottled water," he said.

The Metro spokesperson did not reply to mid-day's messages and calls by press time.

Time on Monday when work was completed

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