The Kerala Water Authority (KWA) has spent ₹36.17 crore to repair damaged pipelines under the Alappuzha drinking water project in the past six years, a Right to Information (RTI) query has revealed.
Since its launch in 2017, pipelines under the project had burst 74 times. The RTI document, however, puts the number of leaks between May 2016 (during the trial run) and June 2022 at 49. The information was obtained by Kochi-based RTI campaigner K. Govindan Nampoothiry.
"The total cost of the Alappuzha drinking water project is estimated at ₹225 crore. That said, the KWA has spent a whopping ₹36.17 crore for repairing the damaged pipelines alone. It points to corruption in the project," said Mr. Nampoothiry.
The Alappuzha drinking water project was executed by the KWA with Central assistance under the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT). A majority of the leaks that occurred so far were on 1.5-km pipelines at Thakazhi and Kelamangalam. The latest burst near the Federal Bank ATM at Thakazhi on Sunday disrupted water supply to thousands of households in Alappuzha municipality and eight nearby grama panchayats.
Though the UIDSSMT launched the work to replace defective pipelines at Kelamangalam and Thakazhi in February this year, the work is making tardy progress. The plan is to lay around 1,200 metres of 900-mm mild steel pipe. Though it was announced that the work would be completed before Onam, only around 800 metres of the pipeline have been laid so far. Officials said that it would take over a month to complete the entire work.
Meanwhile, the work to repair the damaged pipeline near the Federal Bank ATM was nearing completion. Officials of the UIDSSMT said that they expected to restart pumping by Wednesday night.