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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Third Major Such Incident In Three Months, More Than 1,000 Reported Last Year

Three million litres of water gushed out as two pipelines burst at Thane and Mulund on Thursday, compounding Mumbai's water woes and contributing to imposition of a further 30% cut for the entire city from Thursday evening itself. 

    The BMC had earlier hoped to kill two birds with one stone by taking up simultaneous repairs on the Malad tunnel and Tansa pipeline in 
Bhiwandi on Thursday. While areas from Goregaon to Dahisar went without water all day, hydraulic engineers raced against time to fix the leaks. But hours after the repair work at Malad and Bhiwandi began, two pipelines burst at Mulund and Thane. 
    "At Mulund where the pipe supplies water directly, there will be major problems,'' said an official. "Just an hour after we started work on the Malad tunnel and Tansa 
pipeline, we got calls about this burst. So it added to our work. However, we will try our best to finish work by 11 am Friday,'' said additional municipal commissioner Anil Diggikar. 
    While the pipe that burst at LBS Marg, Mulund (W) was a 72-inch diameter Tansa (East) main, the one that burst at Kapurbawadi, Thane, was its west-side counterpart. Worse, the ground below the Mulund pipeline caved in 10 metres deep and parts of the structure supporting the 
pipeline were washed away by gushing water. Repairs will take about 36 hours. 
    The pipe burst at Mulund led to major flooding in the area near the ESIC Hospital and traffic snarls on the arterial LBS Road, where water was filled up to 2.5 feet. Traffic towards Thane via Sonapur was diverted to Johnson and Johnson Road. 
    Residents had to wade through kneelength water as the area was inundated and water entered a few buildings. Even the fire department reached the spot and consider evacuation. However, the need didn't eventually arise as the water was soon arrested and stopped from gushing out. But two petrol pumps had to be closed down as they were submerged in water. 
    Officials said the pipelines burst because of the pressure that built up while closing the valves. "The water (550 mld) being carried by the two pipelines from Tansa (east and west) to Bhandup complex had been stopped in order to carry out the repairs on the leaks that had developed on various portions of the pipeline. So, while closing the valves slowly along the stretch, in these two areas, water got accumulated. Since it was coming from a height, the gravita
tional force was too strong, because of which the bursts occurred,'' said Vinay Deshpande, BMC's hydraulic engineer. 
    He said the thickness of the almost century-old pipelines had reduced considerably at the base due to corrosion on contact with acidic soil. "Although the top portion is still thick, the bottom has become very fragile. This is why pipes burst so frequently,'' he said. 

A Right To Information query has revealed that there were as many as 1,031 cases of pipes bursting or leaking in 2009, draining the city of millions of litres of water 
MAJOR DISASTERS: Jan 4, 2010 | A pipeline burst at Nana Chowk due to drilling by MSRDC contractors Oct 13, 2009 | An 80-year-old Tansa main burst at Kalachowkie May 7, 2009 | A 48-inch water main ruptured near Voltas House, Chinchpokli May 4, 2009 | A 3.3m water pipeline burst at Ranga Bazari Chawl, Kalachowkie Sep 25, 2008 | A 48-inch diameter water pipeline burst at Matunga 
To reduce bursts and leaks and strengthen the leak-detection system BMC budget provided for 
2009-10: Rs 63 cr 2010-11: Rs 132.21 cr

FOUNTAIN OF DESPAIR: The pipe burst at Kapurbawadi, Thane


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