Water crisis hits city, tanker mafia cashes in
Around 70 tankers allegedly steal 5 lakh litres of water daily at Belapur; NMMC denies such thefts
Even as the city is reeling under acute water shortage, tanker mafia is having a field day stealing the precious resource with little action by the authorities.
The modus operandi is to puncture the pipeline or tamper with the valve attached to it. Water is collected through a tap fitted in the pipeline or from a pit dug up near the pipeline in which the water falls. It is then pumped into the water tanks.
The city has been f acing severe water shortage f or the first time and water cuts imposed to tide over the crisis.
This has resulted in a huge demand for tanker water which is the only source of water for many areas due to low pressure of supply. It has now come to fore that the water meant for residents is stolen from them and again sold to them.
One such instance at Shahbaz village in CBD Belapur has been exposed by local journalist Suryakant Waghmare.
Waghmare said: “The Morbe pipeline that passes under the railway bridge is the source of the theft. A pipeline that goes under the track has been punctured and a tap attached to it. It is then connected through a pipe to the high capacity water pumping machine installed there.”
He added, “The machine is used to pump the stolen water into the water tankers.”
Waghmare said that within a 100 metres there were more than three spots from where the water was being stolen. “Around 60 to 70 tankers take water from there every day. Each tanker charges around Rs2,500 from housing societies to supply water.”
Waghmare alleged that the theft has been been going on for long. “The spot is just 300 m away from old Belapur ward office and the officials do not seem to know about it.”
Around 60 to 70 water tankers are filled daily one after the other from 5am to late in the night. Around 5 lakh litres of water is taken away every day.
Bryan D’Souza, a social worker said that there are reports of such incidents at other places in the city. “The tanker mafia is supplying stolen water to several LIG colonies, buildings and societies and also construction sites,” said D’Souza.
He added: “While the ruling party and the administration have failed to provide adequate water as assured by them, they have also failed to take strong action against such t hefts despite it being an open secret. Several areas in the city are not getting water for even two to three hours a day on an average.”
A leaking water pipeline of Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran along Panvel, Uran, JNPT area is leading to wastage of water. Water is being misused and thefts too are rampant.