The Delhi Jal Board on Monday admitted that there are complaints of contamination that it receives daily but maintained that the situation is far from alarming. The Board was reacting to a report compiled by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi alleging that there are cracks in major pipelines that allow contamination of water.
Speaking in defence of the water utility, DJB Chief Executive Officer Ramesh Negi said: “We have over 1,400 km of pipeline. There are leakages and on an everyday basis we get about 20-40 complaints of contamination that are attended to, but the problem is not so alarming.”
‘Where is MCD report?'
The CEO claimed that the Jal Board has not been given a copy of the MCD report, and said that contrary to what the MCD has claimed the DJB has not been part of the survey or report drafting. “No such report has been received by the CEO or by the Member (Water supply) in the DJB, from the Municipal Commissioner, the MCD, or the Chairman, Health Committee of the MCD. In fact, no joint survey of the pipelines was carried out. We have learnt that a copy has been submitted to the Delhi Government, we will ask for a copy of the report.”
The DJB CEO turned the tables on the civic agency for flawed policies that make it difficult for the water utility to get permission to cut roads and carry out necessary repair work.
“The MCD has a complex bureaucracy, there is over centralisation. We have requested the Government to make the procedure (of getting permission) easier,” said Mr. Negi. He also made a reference to the disagreement over cost sharing for road cutting and repair work.
Citing examples of delays caused by the time-consuming permission procedure, Mr. Negi said in Inderpuri the Jal Board had to go ahead with the road cutting work without the permission since the contamination complaints had been pending for over a week.
He also said that in most cases of contamination, the Jal Board had found that the service pipelines were old and rusted. These service lines are the responsibility of the consumers and have to be replaced in 10-15 years.
“Another major problem is that there is no dedicated corridor for the pipelines. Over 50 per cent of Delhi is built in an unauthorised way. There are resettlement colonies, unauthorised colonies, urban villages, slums, and in most of the places the sewer pipes run close to the water carrying mains. The problem of contamination is more during the monsoon season,” said Mr. Negi.
He said with a network of over 14,000 km of water pipelines, and 700 km of water mains and the rest peripheral lines under its service, the DJB has a streamlined procedure for handling contamination issues.
“We routinely lift samples for checking the quality of water. If the source of contamination is not traced immediately, the water supply to the area is cut-off without delay, and water is supplied through tankers until the source of contamination is found and remedied,” he said.
Listing the major reasons for contamination he said, the most common causes are leakages in pipelines, overflowing of sewers and nullahs and damaged service pipelines.
The DJB CEO said about 200-250 km of pipeline is changed annually and they have been urging the MCD to appoint an official who can be part of a joint team that can assess complaints and areas that need attention. “But we have not heard from the MCD so far. We have also set up a system wherein complaints can be lodged with the local water emergency or the central control room, or send an SMS to 53030 by typing “DJB (space) C”.