Pipeline repairs in progress at Adityapur on Tuesday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
Over two lakh residents of Adityapur Municipal Council area are reeling under a severe drinking water crisis for the past five days, thanks to miscommunication between the civic body and drinking water and sanitation department (DW&SD).
Five days after a major snag developed in the main pipeline due to theft, drinking water and sanitation started fixing it on Tuesday. The repair is likely to be over by Wednesday.
On why the repair work did not start on November 21, when the snag was first spotted, the department and the municipality gave their versions.
Executive engineer of the department’s Adityapur division P.K. Chowdhury said the municipality did not inform them about the snag on time.
“The municipality told us yesterday morning (Monday) about the trouble,” the executive engineer said.
“We started work today (Tuesday) because the site is close to tracks and we had to obtain permission from railway authorities,” he said.
But why did the municipality wait till the fourth day?
“Water supply system was maintained by drinking water and sanitation department till a circular issued by urban development department in August entrusted us with maintenance. But we don’t have infrastructure to maintain the pipeline,” said civic body’s executive officer Sanjay Pandey.
Pandey added the delay was caused by a confusion over who would fix the snag. On Monday, the municipality realised it couldn’t wait any more.
But there is a deeper issue of fiscal ownership as well.
“When we got the circular, we told drinking water department about our situation and asked them to continue handling maintenance. The department asked us to pay Rs 26 lakh as quarterly maintenance fund, which we are yet to pay,” Pandey said.
He added they had the money for this repair work.
Department engineer Chowdhury said they used to collect water bills. “This August onwards, consumers are paying the municipal council. The civic body has not created a corpus of maintenance funds despite a letter from us. We started this job from our own resources,” he added.
To sort out fiscal responsibility, Pandey said the municipality would convene a meeting with department officials on November 30.
The water crisis hit Adityapur Housing Colony, Kalpanapuri, Majhitola, Dindli Bustee and Sharma Bustee the hardest. “I never faced such a crisis in 10 years. Living under Adityapur Municipal Council is a punishment,” said A.K. Tripathy of road No. 10, Adityapur Colony.