The water pipeline that burst in Bandra east and claimed the lives of two children on Friday led to the loss of more than 20 lakh litres of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) potable water stock. Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta has directed the hydraulic engineering department to conduct an inquiry into the cause of the leakage in the 72-inch-wide Tansa water supply pipeline.
At around 10.30 am on Friday, the stretch of the Tansa pipeline near Behrampada burst and, owing to the high water pressure, several people were washed away and, among them, eight-month-old Vignesh Doiphode and his nine-year-old sister Priyanka drowned. Civic officials said the water continued to flow for an hour before the leakage could be tended to. The two children who drowned were reportedly inside the shanties. After the authorities were alerted, residents were forcibly moved out of the area.
Stressing on the gravity of the incident, Mehta said a detailed inquiry has to be conducted. “What happened was very unfortunate. The pipelines are supposed to be examined periodically. We need to determine the cause of the leakage and whether there was any pilfering that led it to burst since it’s a critical pipeline,” he said.
Despite the loss of a large quantity of water, officials from the hydraulic engineering department insisted supply won’t be affected at all. “There was a 100 per cent water cut in the island city due to some work taken up at Malabar Hill as well as in Bandra since some valves had to be fitted at Mahim. Even though we lost 20-30 lakh litres of water, since the supply was stopped from 10 am on Friday till 10 am today, there will be no effects of the loss,” said an official from the hydraulic engineering department. The official added that the affected pipeline was a 100-year-old riveted pipe from the British era and the leak had sprung possibly due to corrosion.
Assistant commissioner Alka Sasane said even though she had taken action against residents living illegally near the pipeline only last month following the Bombay High Court’s orders to remove all structures within 10 metres of the pipeline, they all eventually moved back. “Of the 2,000-odd shanties, only 60-70 have valid documents and can be rehabilitated. Apart from those living illegally, we had earlier given notices to those who will be rehabilitated to move out till we can give them accommodation. But despite our efforts, they all refuse to move,” she said.
Sasane said they are now planning to construct a wall at a distance of 10 metres from the pipeline by the end of this year. “On humanitarian grounds, we will have to allow the residents to stay there till the end of the monsoon season. From October onwards, we will forcibly remove the residents and start the process of constructing the wall to prevent them from setting up their shanties once again,” she said.