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Jusco pipe drive bares pilfer peril

Come summer, come freeloaders. In their desperate bid to escape tax heat, a section of Jamshedpur’s residents — mostly from urban slums — are simultaneously tapping water pipes and sewer lines, and in the process exposing legitimate consumers to a host of serious ailments, including jaundice and diarrhoea.

Worse, most of these unscrupulous groups enjoy political patronage and manage to bribe civic employees, making it difficult for law enforcers to bring them to book.

The practice came to light more brazenly on Wednesday morning, when Tata Steel subsidiary Jusco cracked down on Jhabri bustee near Circuit House Area under Sonari police station. A resident of Circuit House Area, who is a hotelier by profession and associated with several voluntary organisations, had lodged a written complaint with Jusco that prompted the drive.

The hour-long operation, amid vocal protests by bustee dwellers, unearthed unauthorised sewer lines to seven households. Later, Jusco also lodged a complaint with police.

According to officials, the civic utility firm runs an intricate network of over 600km pipelines to supply water to more than 500,000 residents of company command areas. Pilferage, they pointed out, is done at night. Incompetent plumbers, often guided by local political heavyweights, dig up and tap water and sewer lines simultaneously, resulting in contamination.

“There is always the risk of sewage water seeping into drinking water pipes. It is like an open invitation to diseases when you drink that water,” Jusco spokesperson Rajesh Rajan said, justifying Wednesday’s crackdown.

Rajan said Jusco’s water treatment plant maintained quality standards set by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), which functions under the Centre’s department of science and technology.

“The water supplied to our consumers has a total dissolved solids (a measure of combined content of inorganic and organic substances in a liquid) count of less than 150, while the world standard is 500. The turbidity (haziness in a fluid caused by suspended solids that are generally invisible to the naked eye) is about 1NTU (nephelometric turbidity unit). Such high quality of water sees steady depreciation because of illegal use,” he pointed out.


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