Not a day passes without maintenance work by a service department in the city affecting some other utility

Next time your power cable snaps, water line bursts or landline blinks, do not fume at the authorities. It is as useless as trying to slam shut a revolving door. The service departments are adept at the blame game, with none prepared to own up responsibility.

This is what happened the other day when a 132 KV power cable got damaged on the Chilkalguda-Moulali stretch during excavation work by the HMWSSB. As usual, the Andhra Pradesh Central Power Distribution Company Limited (APCPDCL) found fault with the Water Board, while the latter washed its hands off, saying it had duly informed the power utility. Last week, BSNL landlines at several houses in Jubilee Hills went kaput thanks to excavation work by some department.

Little coordination

Not a day passes without maintenance work by a service department in the city affecting some other utility. While the negligence of the department executing the work stands out like a sore thumb, more often it is the lack of inter-departmental coordination that is to be blamed. Unfortunately, Hyderabadis have to learn to live with this inconvenience as there is no immediate solution in sight.

The authorities admit that there is no system of sharing information between departments about their underground lines. Even as departmental heads meet pretty often, the ground reality is quite different. Departments like the BSNL, APCPDCL and the Water Board are aware of their underground lines, but this information is not shared between them. The result: while doing a repair job the GHMC ends up damaging a water line, and the Water Board cuts into the power cable while fixing a leak.

The Water Board has a network of primary and secondary distribution lines running into 3,800 km. Besides, it has 2,500 km of trunk sewers, 560 km of transmission mains and 1.70 lakh manholes. But the exact location of these lines is not known to other departments.

Chikalguda faux pas

In the recent case at Chilkalguda, the Water Board took up shifting of its water lines to facilitate erection of piers by the Hyderabad Metro Rail Corporation. The traffic police did not give permission to carry out road digging during day time in view of the heavy traffic movement. “Therefore, we carried out the work during night. The APCPDCL was informed in advance, but none from the department was present when we dug up the road during night”, says P. Manohar Babu, director (Operations), HMWSSB.

Whenever it undertakes road digging, the Water Board usually alerts BSNL and not the APCPDCL since the latter has only 5 to 10 per cent of its cables running underground.

“When a high power line like 132 KV is laid underground, why the department has not put up some indication by way of warning?” asks Mr. Babu.

A possible solution

Laying of an underground duct, officials feel, is the only solution to stop damage of utilities by service departments inadvertently. The duct has to be laid by the GHMC, and it can collect rent from the departments which use it for laying their service lines.

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