Afshan Yasmeen

Pipes drawn from the mainline to households to be replaced in the next two months

The project was first launched in 2004 It was withdrawn after consumers protested The project is being revived following reports of contamination of water

BANGALORE: Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) will resume its project to replace old and corroded house connections with Medium Density Poly Ethylene (MDPE) pipes in the next two months.

This is aimed at preventing contamination and to cut down on wastage.

The project, which was started a few years ago, was put on hold in 2004 after consumers objected to the high cost of new pipes. The board charged Rs. 2,000 from each consumer to change the individual house connections (from the house to the main line). BWSSB officials, who found that mixing of sewage with potable water occurred mostly at the house-service level, had decided to replace galvanised iron (GI) pipes with MDPE pipes that will last for 50 years. The project included changing of all cast-iron and PVC pipes with ductile iron pipes that will last for 100 years.

Now the board is planning to restart the project. BWSSB Chief Engineer (Maintenance) L.S. Khandappanavar told The Hindu on Wednesday that the project would resume within the next two months.

"To ensure that there was no contamination and conserve water, it is essential to change the pipes of all the 4.75 lakh individual connections. "We had to put the project on hold because of resentment from consumers over the high cost of the pipes. We will now create awareness about water conservation and convince people on the need to replace GI pipes with MDPE lines," he said. Mainly aimed at conserving water, the project is a follow-up of the Rs. 40 crore unaccounted for water (UWF) reduction pilot project taken up for 35,000 individual connections in Ulsoor, Cleveland Reservoir, Johnson Market, High Grounds and Coles Park service station limits. Soon after the MDPE project started, the officials replaced old and corroded pipes of over 3,000 connections in parts of Vijayanagar, Rajajinagar, Magadi Road and Cantonment areas. But consumers objected to high costs and asked why should they pay for something that is BWSSB's duty. Corporators of these areas, who took up the issue at the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) Council meetings, demanded that the board should subsidise the charges.

Govindarajnagar corporator G. Krishnappa had even urged the then Mayor P.R. Ramesh and the then BMP Commissioner M.R. Sreenivas Murthy to intervene and stop the project in his ward. "It is acceptable if the board charges for those who want new connections, but unfair if consumers, with old connections, are asked to pay," Mr. Krishnappa said.

Mr. Khandappanavar justified that the board has to collect the charges as MPDE pipes are expensive. The amount included the cost of the pipe, road cutting, restoration and labour charges, he added.