Pipes were subjected to BIS-stipulated testing process

In what could be another major scandal to hit the city Corporation, a commission that was appointed to check the quality of the drain pipes used in the city-wide sewerage project found that the pipes were not of the stipulated standards and could lead to serious leaks under normal working conditions. The commission submitted its report to the Principal Munsiff Court here on Tuesday.

The sewerage project is being implemented as part of the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project (KSUDP) and has been contracted to Chennai-based Shriram EPC. The Court had, on April 9, ordered an inspection of the sewerage pipes following allegations of corruption levelled by an anti-corruption campaign committee. A team had excavated the pipes from three random points in the city and taken them to a test centre in Kannur.

The pipes were subject to a rigorous testing process, as stipulated by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). According to the inspection report, a copy of which is with The Hindu, the three pipes tested failed most of the major tests, including hydrostatic and straightness tests, conducted at an approved testing facility in Kannur.

In hydrostatic testing, the pipe’s ability to withstand pressure in real-time conditions is tested. During the test, “leakage was observed at socket and in barrel. Also, there was leakage along the mould parting line on both sides of the circumferences.”

Leakage

Sources said that the pipes developed leakage even before half the pressure level stipulated by the BIS was reached.

“Failure of hydrostatic tests of the pipes shows that they are not fit for sewerage system because of leakage, ” says the report. “If there is leakage in the system, it will adversely affect the health of the residents in the locality.” It also points to the risk of outbreak of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, and trachoma due to the contamination of ground water.

In straightness test, the pipes were found to not possess a smooth inside surface.

“Some cement accumulation and dents are seen inside the surface of the pipes. So there is no scope for free flow of the drainage water. It will create blocks inside the pipes and cause leakage,” says the report.

The third pipe that was excavated as part of the random sampling was found to be unfit even for testing on visual inspection. As per the report, “breakage and cracks were observed at both spigot and socket ends. Fresh concrete, not at the time of pipe manufacturing, was found randomly applied at both ends of the pipe. This could have been an attempt to stop leakage possibility. Such cement application will not stop leakage.”

“We excavated the pipes from three random areas. These were found to be without ISI marks and so we conducted the tests as per BIS standards, led by Sai Kumar Vedula, Assistant Director of the BIS. The pipes are much below the acceptable standards,” said K. Raghunandan, who heads the commission.

The City Corporation, KSUDP, and the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) are now given time till June 21 to file objections to the commission’s findings.

‘Results unacceptable’

However, KSUDP project manager K. Bhaskaran told The Hindu that the test results were not acceptable as the damages could have been caused during removal and transportation.

“We have already done all the tests stipulated by the BIS at every stage of the implementation and the pipes passed all of these. The failure in the latest tests could be explained by the damages caused while removing the pipes from the drains and then in transporting to Kannur. The pipes are not designed to be used that way,” said Mr. Bhaskaran.

Mayor A.K. Premajam said she was yet to get a copy of the report and hence could not comment on the same.

Anti-corruption activist K.P. Vijayakumar, who had first raised the issue, said the entire responsibility rested with the city Corporation.

“We had informed the Corporation authorities, right at the start, that the pipes are of very low quality. However, the response from their side has been negative and they also went on a vilification campaign against a few of us for raising the issue,” said Mr. Vijayakumar.

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