A WEEK after BJP MLA Ashish Shelar and MP Kirit Somaiya raised allegations of a Rs 500-crore water scam in the city, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is in the process of finalising a policy to increase the monitoring of private water tankers operating in the city. The policy drafted by the health and hydraulics departments is pending approval from Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta.
As per the draft policy, the private tankers carrying potable water will not be allowed to transport non-potable water.
“The private tankers will have to bear an identification mark of some kind to distinguish those carrying potable water from the 18 BMC filling stations and those carrying non-potable water from tubewells, borewells and open wells,” said Executive Health Officer Padmaja Keskar.
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Somaiya had also alleged that around 90 per cent of the drivers didn’t even hold a valid licence. The new policy proposes a closer watch on the validity of the licence to transport water, which is issued by the health department.
Somaiya had claimed that as many as 48,180 tankers — 9,181 from BMC and 38,999 private — supplied water in the whole of Mumbai city between January 1 and April 10, 2016. He had said such a large number of private water tankers should not be allowed to fill water.
He had also said the BMC had sold around 39,000 litres of water to private tankers between January 1 and March 10.
Officials in the hydraulics department said the new policy had prescribed certain measures, including increased monitoring of the private water tankers at the filling stations. “We will introduce a metering system at the filling points and each private tanker will be issued a challan. Private tankers without a valid licence will not be allowed to fill water,” said an official. Stating that the details of the policy were being worked out, Mehta said, “The policy will be finalised by the week’s end.”
Meanwhile, after the allegations were raised, the BMC issued a notice to the owners of private water tankers asking them to stop lifting and selling water from borewells.
As a mark of protest, members of the Water Tankers’ Association stopped transporting water from Tuesday. “The BMC is not allowing us to lift water from borewells, which means we have to shut down our business,” said Jeetu Shah, convenor of the association.