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

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NAVI MUMBAI - G Mo­hi­ud­din Jeddy ht­for­nav­i­mum­bai@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.”

BACHCHAN KU­MAR

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.

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