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For want of stopcocks, gallons flow down drain

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) boasts of an investment of Rs 200 crore to boost water supply in the city and advocates that users pay for the service. But more than 250 million litres of filtered water, worth Rs 15 lakh, flow down the drain every day for want of just Rs 70 lakh to buy 25,000 stopcocks for roadside taps.

It costs Rs 6 for the production (including supply and distribution) of every 1,000 litres of filtered water. There are more than 20,000 civic taps on the roads and in the slum areas. And they spew filtered water for 10 hours a day. In absence of stopcocks, filtered water worth Rs 75 is wasted daily from each tap in the city.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee maintains: “New treatment plants and booster stations will be of little use if this massive loss of water is not checked”.

According to chief engineer (water supply) Dibyendu Roychaudhury: “Roadside taps are always installed with stopcocks, but users have a peculiar tendency of breaking them.”

Borough X chairman Arup Biswas claims: “Most of the city’s taps are without stopcocks. I have asked the water supply department time and again to supply some to check waste of water, but each time I was told there was no stock in the stores.”

Admitting to a shortage of stopcocks, mayor-in-council (water supply) member Sovan Chatterjee said: “What can I do if the stores department does not buy them' I could not have water mains laid as the stores section did not buy pipes. And the section is not looked after by me.”

Reacting to Chatterjee’s barb, mayor-in-council (slum development) member Pradip Ghosh, who oversees the stores, retorted: “Joler taka joley jachche (Funds for water are flowing out). That is precisely the reason why people are not getting adequate supply.” Defending himself, Ghosh said: “The stores section does not buy anything on its own unless the departments concerned send in an inventory, with the requirement, specification and funds for it.” He claimed Chatterjee was in the habit of sending across demands without the funds to procure the items.

Ghosh pointed out that when pipes were being laid in Behala, Chatterjee had allotted money and the pipes had been supplied as per specifications. He rarely showed a similar zeal to lay pipes in any other area, Ghosh added.

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