Residents of some standalone buildings are allegedly drawing water illegally from the supply network of the civic body, denying many their due share when the city is reeling under an unrelenting summer heat.
Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) will send teams to inspect the network in the places where residents are complaining of inadequate supply and identify the points of theft, officials of the civic body said.
A resident of Bipalbi Barin Ghosh Sarani in Bagmari, near Ultadanga in northeast Kolkata, called up mayor Firhad Hakim during the “Talk to Mayor” phone-in programme on Saturday and told him that she was getting water only during the last few minutes of each supply window, once in the morning and again in the evening.
For the rest of the duration the civic body supplies water, she and her neighbours get nothing.
“Water starts reaching us only five to 10 minutes before the civic body turns off supply each time. We don’t know why this is happening. Many apartment blocks have come up in our area recently,” Sruiti Pathak told Hakim over the phone.
“This is happening because some people are illegally drawing water from the pipes. I'm aware of this illegal practice. I have severed such connections in Garden Reach,” Hakim said in reply from a conference room in the KMC headquarters on SN Banerjee Road, in the presence of reporters.
He said he had received such complaints from Kidderpore and Tiljala in southwest Kolkata but got one from a resident of Bagmari for the first time on Saturday.
“This happens when builders don’t leave enough space to construct a reservoir,” Hakim said while discussing the woman’s complaint with senior officials of the civic body.
“The space that may have been utilised to build a reservoir is used to construct stairs.”
The mayor immediately asked officials to visit Bagmari on Monday and identify the cause of the problem.
“The mayor has asked us to start visiting the areas (from where complaints are coming) from Monday and find out how water is being illegally drawn by some apartment blocks from our supply lines,” said an official in the KMC water supply department.
Officials suspect residents are possibly using pumps to illegally draw water directly from the supply pipes to fill their overhead reservoirs.
“That explains why a section of residents does not get a drop during most of the supply period,” one of them said.
The KMC releases 488 million gallons of water into the distribution system every day, but nearly half of it goes to waste or is unaccounted for, officials said.
Water resource experts said about 250 million gallons of water should be enough to meet Kolkata’s daily needs.
Water crisis resulting from thefts has remained a challenge for the civic body for years. The areas under the scanner for water theft include pockets in Tiljala, Picnic Garden, Park Circus, Garia, Patuli and Bansdroni.
“Drives were launched and pumps used to suck water illegally were seized. Apart from snapping connections of those found guilty of water theft, the KMC slapped fines on offenders,” an official in the civic water supply department said.