THE Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s project to construct two tunnels to augment water supply in the northeastern and southern parts of the city and replace the ageing network of pipelines has finally received all the required approvals. The project had been lying in cold storage for the past three years. The Hydraulic Engineering department Monday signed an MoU with the Department of Atomic Energy. Tenders for the Rs 850-crore project are expected to be opened by the end of December.
Watch what else is making news
While one of the tunnels runs over 5.5 km from Amar Mahal in Ghatkopar east to the two Trombay reservoirs, the other one is 9.66-km long and runs from Amar Mahal, through Wadala to Parel. “The new tunnels will be able to supply more water to areas like Chembur and Parel, where extra water supply is needed. Since the tunnel will be underground, there won’t be leakages or contamination of water,” said additional municipal commissioner Sanjay Mukherjee. Mukherjee said while the Amar Mahal-Trombay pipeline would especially improve the water supply in slum areas of M East and M West wards, the Amar Mahal-Wadala-Parel pipeline would improve the distribution network and increase water pressure in South Mumbai.
The alignment of the Amar Mahal-Trombay reservoirs (higher and lower) tunnel runs through the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Trombay. “Owing to the nature of its research, the BARC is a highly secured area. We needed their approval to carry out the construction of the tunnel. They have made certain recommendations, which we have accepted, and signed the MoU on Monday,” said Ramesh Bambale, deputy municipal commissioner of the Hydraulic Engineering department. Apart from suggestions to take up several security measures such as mandatory police verification certificates for all contract labourers and installation of CCTV cameras with recorded footage, the Atomic Energy Department also told the BMC to add a steel lining in addition to the concrete lining of the tunnel. This will increase the cost of the project by close to Rs 50 crore.
Following this suggestion, the BMC has increased the depth of the Amar Mahal-Trombay tunnel as well to 100 metres below the surface. To reduce the chances of any ruptures due to digging of borewells and to eliminate the chances of water theft, HE department officials said the second tunnel will also be 90 metres under the ground.
The primary reason behind constructing underground tunnels is to replace the old pipelines, which are almost five decades old. “The new tunnels will have a higher capacity and we have made the plan keeping the projected population of 2061 in mind. The pipeline mains are very old and there is a chance of leaks or ruptures and we have to plan for the future. The tunnels will take a period of six years to be completed and the current pipelines will hold till then,” said Bambale. While the current diameter of the pipeline is 1.8 metres, the tunnels will have a diameter of 2.5 metres.
While the cost of the Amar Mahal-Trombay pipeline is approximately Rs 350 crore, the one running through Wadala and till Parel will cost around Rs 500 crore. HE officials said the cost of the second tunnel will be shared by MMRDA since the water supply will be provided to an area which falls under their jurisdiction. “The MMRDA has given us their approval in writing and they will pay a proportionate cost of around Rs 70 crore for the project and we will carry out the construction work,” said Bambale. Work on the tunnels is expected to start in the next financial year.