It received 750 calls to fix leak last month

: Disruption in drinking water supply due to leak in pipelines has become frequent in the city with residents and commercial establishments left to fend for themselves, even as the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) draws up a long-term plan to replace the old pipeline network, believed to be the cause for recurring leaks.

In the last two days alone, drinking water taps in Thampanoor, Chalai, Nettayam, Kodunganoor and Kulashekaram ran dry with residents making frantic calls to the KWA helpline seeking immediate intervention to restore the supply.

The enormity of the problem can be gauged by the number of calls the KWA helpline receives every day. Data gathered from the helpline wing reveals that on an average the section receives 20 calls a day, majority of them related to complaints about pipeline leaks and water shortage. Last month alone, the helpline got 750 calls related to pipeline leak and 70 regarding water shortage.

Though the ‘Blue Brigade,’ formed specially to attend to complaints about leakage, was pressed into service whenever a complaint was received, it takes time for the team to plug the leak due to a multitude of factors, a senior KWA official said.

“The pipeline is laid as deep as 10 to 12 ft and the leak could be at a point where the line passes through concrete block. It has to be cut open to identify the nature of leak, and then plugged. If permission of other agencies, including the Public Works and Electricity Departments was needed, the work would be further delayed,” the official said.

The reason cited for the leak, the official said, is the condition of the pipeline network, which is as old as 40 to 80 years and never inspected at micro level. Krishna Kumar, Superintending Engineer, PH Circle, Thiruvananthapuram, KWA, told The Hindu that as a long- term measure, the utility had decided to replace premo pipes with dutile pipes in certain places with immediate effect.

A sum of Rs. 18 crore had been sanctioned to replace the pipes from Muttathara to Kesavadasapuram, Ambalamukku to Ulloor via Kesavadasapuram and Peroorkada to Sasthamangalam. “We have begun the process to allot the work,” he added