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The Rs 13-cr error that punctured Mumbai’s water supply for one month

Updated on: 31 March,2023 11:21 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Sameer Surve | sameer.surve@mid-day.com

Thane builder booked and will be fined after illegal bore well digging during IT park work leaves Mumbai facing 15 per cent water cut for one month starting today

The Rs 13-cr error that punctured Mumbai’s water supply for one month

The site of the proposed IT park in Thane, on Thursday


Thanks to the developer of an under-construction IT park at Wagle Estate, water supply to Mumbai and Thane city will be slashed by 15 per cent for a month, starting today. While digging a bore well at the site, the workers hit and punctured a water tunnel 70 metres below ground last year. The BMC has decided to recover the cost for repairs, R13 crore, from the builder, against whom the Thane police have filed an FIR.
 
The Shree Nagar police in Thane on March 28 registered an FIR against the developer, Squarefeet Real Estate, under IPC Section 430 (mischief by injury to works of irrigation or by wrongfully diverting water), after receiving a complaint from a local activist.


Water from the tunnel is being pumped into this storm water drain at the work plot. Pics/Sayyed Sameer AbediWater from the tunnel is being pumped into this storm water drain at the work plot. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi


Thane-based civic activist Bharatkumar Pisat had noticed leakage in the area, as the developer was pumping water from the damaged site to a storm water drain near the plot. He then decided to gather information from the BMC under the Right to Information Act, and got a reply to his query on February 27, which he has shared with mid-day.


Also read: Mumbai to witness 15 per cent water cut for a month from March 31, says BMC

RTI response

The BMC’s documents show that on November 8, 2022, while digging a bore well at plot No C-30 on Road No. 16 in Wagle Industrial Estate, the workers punctured the water tunnel. The tunnel carries water from Balkum to the Bhandup purification centre. A civic team visited the site the same day and confirmed the damage; however, the officials neither filed a police complaint nor took action against the developer, the activist said.

A pipe, going through the centre of the open area, pumps the water out of the broken tunnel site
A pipe, going through the centre of the open area, pumps the water out of the broken tunnel site

According to the documents, the developer got the approval for construction of the IT park from the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), which is the planning authority for the zone. The MIDC has told the BMC that the developer did not take its permission for digging the bore well. “The document shows that the bore well was illegal, yet the authorities concerned are unwilling to file a police complaint in this regard,” Pisat told mid-day. There was a loss of 3 million litres of water daily, which is 11 per cent of the city’s daily supply. As the tunnel was punctured 143 days ago, 429 million litres of water has been lost so far, shows the record.

Also Read: Aftab Amin Poonawala, and now Rimple Jain: Inside the mind of cold blooded killers

No-bore well zone

Not just the spot, but the entire Wagle Industrial Estate is a no-bore well zone. Both the civic authorities of Mumbai and Thane have erected signs to this effect. A senior police officer told mid-day, “We are investigating the case and collecting information from all parties concerned.” The Thane police have sought information from both the BMC and the MIDC. Thane Congress leader Rahul Pingle demanded to know why were the “authorities concerned delaying action against the offenders? Moreover, why did the BMC start repair work so late?”

The repair work

The BMC will start repairing work on March 31, which would disrupt water supply to Mumbai and parts of Thane for 30 days. According to the BMC’s document, the water supply from the tunnel would be stopped and diverted to the 2,750 dia Vaitarna main, 2,750 dia Upper Vaitarna main and 3,000 dia Tansa replacement main.

The storm water drain outside the under-construction IT park site, at Wagle Estate in Thane, on Thursday. Pic/Sayyed Sameer AbediThe storm water drain outside the under-construction IT park site, at Wagle Estate in Thane, on Thursday. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

After diverting the supply, the BMC will create arrangements for ventilation and lighting in the tunnel. During the 30-day work, the water supply will be slashed by 15 per cent. When a mid-day team visited the spot on Thursday, site engineer Patil (as he introduced himself) and others refused to share any information. No contact could be made through the phone numbers provided on the developer’s website either.

Additional Commissioner (BMC) P Velrasu did not respond to mid-day’s message for comment. In the past, tunnels have been punctured within the city limits during illegal digging of bore wells—once in October 2011 at a housing society in Jogeshwari and another in November 2013 in Malad. The Jogeshwari tunnel between Yari Road and Veravali carried treated water. 

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