Continuous water supply a pipe dream in Thane
Only 39% of 493 schemes in the district have been completed; proceedings initiated against crooked contractors and govt officials
Shahapur, the largest taluka in Thane district, is parched. But a poor monsoon is alone not to blame for it. Sixty-one percent of water supply and distribution schemes for several talukas of the district, approved by the Thane zilla parishad (ZP) in the last 10 years, are still in limbo. A majority of them has allegedly been scuttled by crooked contractors and government officials.
Crunch time: A number of villages in Thane district are dependent on groundwater or tankers. PIC FOR REPRESENTATION
A ZP official said 493 schemes like installing taps and water pipelines, worth Rs 317 crore, have been approved over the last 10 years for Ambernath, Bhiwandi, Kalyan, Murbad and Shahapur talukas. “Of these, only 192 have been completed.”
Shahapur and Murbad account for the highest number of pending schemes. “In Shahapur, 130 water supply schemes were approved, of which only 37 have been completed. In Murbad, of the 175 approved schemes, 133 are still pending. The completion of these schemes will resolve most of the water woes of these two talukas,” the officer added.
Blowing lid off scam
A recent inquiry into the flow of funds meant for the water supply schemes in 1,500 villages of Thane district opened a Pandora’s box — Water Supply and Sanitation Minister Babanrao Lonikar revealed a scam of Rs 317 crore in distribution. The ZP official said the schemes’ contractors and government officials are under scrutiny. Cases have been registered against 25 water supply committees across the district, and an executive and deputy engineer from water department has been suspended.
Of the pending 301 schemes, 77 are expected to be completed at the earliest.
Criminal proceedings have been initiated over 28 schemes. The inquiry committee has proposed the registration of cases on 25 schemes. Two of the total schemes are stuck in court. The Thane ZP has filed criminal cases against the gram sevak, the sarpanch, and the water supply and sanitation committees after finding irregularities in 23 schemes in Murbad, four in Shahapur and one from Bhiwandi.