It’s wet, wet, wet along the Pune-Ahmednagar highway beyond the municipal limits, thanks to the dedicated and illegal supply of water, meant for the city, to non-PMC areas by private tanker operators.
Every day, many private tankers that have entered into an agreement with PMC to supply drinking water for areas where the civic body is unable to provide piped water, fill up at the Parvati water filling centre and head straight beyond city limits with their precious load.
|Tanker #1 We followed this tanker to the Kalyani Forge
unit at Koregaon Bhima
What facilitates this easy pilfering of water is, firstly, the lack of octroi checks on water tankers and secondly, the challan made out at the filling station where tankers get water doesn’t mention the supply destination.
|Tanker #2 We followed this tanker to the Kalyani Forge
unit at Sanaswadi MIDC
On Monday morning, the Mirror team staked out the filling centre, where the day starts bright and early at 6.30 am as tankers start drawing up. After ascertaining that the tankers were headed towards Nagar Road, two tankers — MH-12-7972 and MH-12HD-1364 owned by Sanas Roadlines — were followed at adiscreet distance.
Both tankers filled up and set out at 8.10 am. At Kharadi, they passed through the octroi post without any challenge and exited municipal limits. The tankers halted near Katkewasti at Wagholi, where one of the drivers allowed a small restaurant owner to fill several jerry cans of water from the tanker.
• Tanker #1 The first tanker left from the Parvati filling centre at 8.10 am, crossed the Kharadi octroi post on its way and reached the Kalyani Forge campus at Koregaon Bhima around 9.45 am
The tankers then passed through the Perne Phata toll plaza on Nagar Road and went on towards Kalyani Forge premises in Koregaon Bhima. While one entered the main gate, the second tanker moved ahead to another unit of Kalyani Forge at Sanaswadi Industrial Zone. Both industrial units are located some 25 km beyond the city limits.
• Tanker #2 The second tanker left from the Parvati filling centre at 8.20 am, could be seen traversing Sanaswadi-MIDC on Pune-Nagar Highway, and finally reaching the Kalyani Forge campus there
PMC’s water supply department, however, has no machinery to keep tabs on such activities nor does it maintain any record of the tankers’ destination. Mirror found that a tanker of water that is to supposed to be cost Rs 300-400 is being sold for over Rs 3,000-5,000 outside city limits. The drivers were also seen selling the water to small highway eateries.
When a private tanker operator wishes to supply PMC drinking water, he enters into an agreement duly signed on stamp paper and agrees to adhere to PMC water supply norms. The PMC strictly forbids selling of drinking water outside city limits, and also bans its use for industrial purposes. The operators also give an undertaking stating they would be facing action if they break these rules.
Vivek Velankar of the Sajag Nagrik Manch, said, “PMC should curb such activites at the octroi post. Their failure to do so shows a nexus between PMC officers and the tanker mafia. Within the next couple of days, water cuts will be increased,” he said.
He added, “Factories are using fresh PMC drinking water to avoid spending extra on cleaning machinery that gets dirty due to the hard water. Use of hard water reduces life of the machinery. Each tanker-load is been sold for Rs 3,000 to 5,000 to these industries. It has become a big business.”
Kiran Chaudhari, administration in-charge at Kalyani Forge, said, “Every day, we purchase eight to nine tankers of water from private operators who bring it from the PMC filling station. We use it for drinking purposes only. We use local water for industry.” He, however, declined to elaborate on why so much water is needed everyday for drinking purposes.
Vijay G Kulkarni, superintending engineer (water supply department), said, “We don’t have any system to curb such activities. In case of any complaint we do take action and suspend the offending operator’s licence. In case of habitual offenders, we take action like blacklisting the tanker owner.”
He added, “It is true that the destination is not mentioned on the challan, as the staff believes in oral communication. In the agreement it is clearly mentioned that in case water is found being supplied outside city limits, and utilised for industrial purpose, the concerned operator will be punished.”
Hemant Nikam, head, PMC octroi department, said, “Water carried in tankers is not a commodity which comes under octroi, so there is no need to check the tankers. The issue of illegal water supply is not within my jurisdiction. I haven’t given any specific instructions regarding checking of water tankers.”
► It is true that the final destination is not mentioned on the challan, as the staff believes in oral communication
- Kulkarni, Supdt Enggr, Water Dept
► Every day, we purchase 8-9 tankers of water from private operators who bring it from the PMC filling station. We use it for drinking purposes only. We use local water for industry
- Kiran Chaudhari, Administration in-charge at Kalyani Forge
► Water in tankers is not a commodity under octroi, so there is no need to check the tankers. I haven’t given any specific instructions regarding checking of water tankers
- Hemant Nikam, Head, PMC Octroi Department