Unabated Water Crisis


Replace old pipelines to ensure uninterrupted water supply

EVEN though public works department has resumed pumping of water from Opa to main water tank at Altinho in Panaji and subsequently releasing it through network of pipelines, problems of people of Panaji and surrounding areas are far from over. People have been supplied muddy water, which is unfit for human consumption except perhaps for flushing toilets. The problem is likely to persist for at least another day, till the mud residue settles down. While the pipeline which was damaged at Curti has been repaired another one supplying water to St Cruz, Goa Medical College, St Inez, Tonca, etc, has developed crack affecting the supply of water to these areas. Following the latest bursting of pipeline, people will have to bear with the water woe for some more time. Having failed to deliver on their earlier promises the politicians, including PWD Minister Deepak Pauskar, have refrained from setting a deadline for repair of pipelines that developed crack on Thursday. Perhaps politicians doubt capability of PWD after it repeatedly failed in executing works after pipeline burst at Ponda.

The damage to the pipeline carrying water to Panaji and Ponda is not the first nor is it expected to be last. Every year scores of cracks in the pipelines carrying water to various places are reported leading to disruption of water supply for days. It is surprising to note that pipelines are laid on the edges of the roads, and at times in the middle of roads in the state. Any damage to the pipelines due to pressure of vehicular movement, accidents, etc not only affects the water supply but also the roads, which have to be dug up repeatedly for repair of pipelines affecting the flow of vehicular traffic. It is pertinent to note here that despite the leak from pipeline carrying water to the GMC, St Cruz, etc had been noticed on Thursday morning no immediate corrective action was taken. What is surprising is that in the age of modern technology, the PWD officials were unable to exactly locate the crack as a result of which the harried people would continue to suffer.

While the pipelines carrying water to Ponda and Tiswadi talukas were damaged due to the collapse of a retaining wall constructed by National Highway Authority of India while widening the road, the one at (Calapur) St Cruz is buried under the road making location of the crack difficult. The PWD Minister has alleged that though the pipeline was supposed to be shifted before start of ongoing works the same was not done because there were no instructions issued by former PWD minister Ramkrishna Dhavlikar. Why should any minister issue instructions to contractors on how to execute the works? Was the shifting of the pipeline not incorporated in the tender document? Rather than engaging in the blame game, the politicians should ensure that problems faced by public were minimal and are addressed at earliest and that people face least hardship. Besides, the government has to ensure that there was least scope for politicos to interfere in the execution of public works and issuing of directions to the contractors. This will help curb sub-standard workmanship as also end resultant corrupt practices.

Given the fact that there are frequent ruptures of water pipelines, the government should ensure that these pipelines were laid at least a few metres away from the roads. Many of the water pipelines in the state are very old and they need to be replaced. The government has to draw up a master plan to lay newer pipelines which should be easily accessible for repairs without causing problem for flow of traffic. The laying of new pipelines would help in ensuring continuous water supply to public as also curtail expenditure on frequent repairs. Besides, with almost 30 per cent of treated water being lost due to leakages in pipelines, investment in new pipelines would help plug leakage of water as well as revenue. The government has been promising round the clock water supply for years but has failed to keep its promise. A fresh look at the policies with regards to public utilities could help in not only addressing woes of people but also ensure better and uninterrupted delivery of utility services, in larger public interest.