Just 3 cameras to spot leaks

May 15, 2012, 06:31 IST | Sujit Mahamulkar

And you were wondering why the BMC takes so long to fix the leaks, which are a huge drain on the city's water supply, forcing Mumbaikars to suffer frequent water cuts

There is a reason why your complaints of water leaks in the pipeline are not acted upon quickly. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has only three cameras to detect water pipeline leakage for the entire city, which has over 4,000 km of pipeline network. To top that, one of the cameras is not working right now.

Every day, at least 25 complaints, and every week over 125 complaints of leaks are lodged with the civic disaster management department. And the BMC with its three special German-made cameras, each costing Rs 18 lakh, struggles to plug the dripping underground pipes. “Many complaints are lodged daily with the department but three cameras cannot watch over the pipeline network of the entire city,” said a civic official on the condition of anonymity.

The BMC has three roving pan-tilt-zoom cameras for detecting internal pipeline leaks. 

Usually, citizens have to put up with low pressure in taps due to the leaks. But the civic water department is unable to fix the problem immediately as it cannot pinpoint the location of the leak. Many a time, the department digs huge trenches on the road or footpath to detect the exact site underground in order to repair it. Disgruntled with the poor detection, Dilip Lande, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader, demanded that the BMC should buy at least one camera for each zone, and later one for each ward.

Each camera can roam up to 300 metres in either direction from its point of installation, and survey all 360 degrees. With a 12X digital zoom and a 14 mega pixel resolution, it can detect leaks easily while roving. 

Ramesh Bambale, head of the BMC’s water department, said, “We receive at least one complaint from each ward daily, and there are 24 wards in the city.” He added that some leakage spots do not need cameras to be detected. To overcome the leakage problem, the BMC has undertaken the project of replacing water mains, as most of the existing mains are more than 80 years old. Due to the city’s moist climate, problems of rusting are frequent and often lead to bursts or leakages, officials said. Citizens can complain about leakages on the toll free number 1916.

The images of leaks captured by the camera are relayed to a screen where officials can pinpoint the location. Pics/Bipin Kokate

Did you know?
The BMC supplies 3,400 million litres of water daily to the city from six lakes. Of this, over 20 per cent – or over 700 million litres - is wasted in leakages and pilferages every day. 

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