Tankers' vanishing act: Where is the water going?

Jul 23, 2014, 06:18 IST | Niranjan Medhekar

PMC claims 10,415 water tankers supplied water across the city; citizens say they did not receive any tankers despite repeated calls

While the ongoing water shortage crisis continues to take its toll on the city, Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) water supply department claims it has arranged for 10,415 trips by water tankers to the hardest hit areas between July 1 and 20. Citizens and city corporators however, paint an entirely different picture and say they have not received any tankers despite repeated requests.

In hot water: While the PMC claims 10,415 water tanker trips were made across the city, citizens and corporators beg to differ. File Pics

“Since last week PMC has increased water cuts and now we receive water supply on alternate days. As our building is in the interior parts of Mahatma Society, we are not getting adequate water supply. So we have repeatedly called PMC and even some private tankers but still have not received any,” said a resident of Anubandh apartment in Mahatma Society.

Nikhil Topkar, who stays in Shikshaknagar Society in Kothrud said, “Even if we luckily get a water tanker, the private contractor charges an exorbitant amount, many times beyond R1200. The tanker driver even refuses to let us share the water between two adjacent bunglows, giving lame excuses about how he can’t waste time in arranging the tanker’s position twice.”

As a result, citizens like Topkar often bear two-fold losses – first by having to pay through their nose for the water, and then by not having enough storage for the full 10,000 litres of water in the tanker. BJP corporator Madhuri Sahasrabuddhe, who represents Deccan Gymkhana area said, “Though my ward falls in the heart of the city we have not received water tankers even after making calls. Hence the water department’s claim of 10,415 trips carried out by tankers in the past three weeks is erroneous.” Sahasrabuddhe has now submitted a written demand to know how many tankers of water were sent to her ward in the same period.

“Around the Prabhat Road area, specific lanes do not receive water supply even on alternate days, leading them to rely on tankers. One Savitri Society resident called for a tanker last Wednesday, and after several attempts at last received one on Saturday. PMC should understand that it is their obligation to ensure smooth water supply in the city,” added Sahasrabuddhe.

Despite the PMC’s claims, the citizens complaints beg the question, where has all the water gone? A closer look at the numbers shows that of the 10,415 trips, just 830 were made by 15 PMC-owned tankers, while the rest were made by private tankers.
V G Kulkarni, PMC superintendent engineer said, “In each PMC zone we have appointed two private contractors which in total have 37 tankers carrying out nearly 150 rounds daily, along with 25 trips made by our tankers daily. Villages like Fursungi, Yevlewadi and Shevalwadi which have recently come under PMC’s jurisdiction, receive 100 tanker trips daily.”

However, Kulkarni admits that his department has no control over what the private tankers do with the water. “The private contractors fill up their tankers at PMC water outlets by paying R500 and then they go to various parts of the city. Now no one knows whether they stick to city limits or go outside. We don’t have any control over it,” he said.

The GPS solution
The PMC had earlier proposed that GPS systems be installed on each water tanker, to enable tracking of their routes and stops. However, the proposal has led to a stand-off between the Corporation and private tanker owners. But the recent clamour over the water shortage has kick-started the process again.

“We are firm that all tankers should install GPS system,” said Kulkarni. Rajendra Jagtap, PMC additional municipal commissioner said, “All the 15 tankers owned by PMC will also soon be equipped with GPS system. So private contractors also have no option but to install it immediately. Otherwise, our next step will be to prohibit tankers without GPS to fill water from PMC outlets.”

Rs 500
Amount private tankers pay to fill up at PMC water outlets

Rs 800-1000
Range of rates for a private tanker of water

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