Nagpur municipality proposes action against private water supplier
After a spate of complaints regarding water supply, contamination and corruption, the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) has at last decided to take action against private water supplier Orange City Water Limited (OCWL).
The water supply system of Nagpur city in Maharashtra was given to OCWL on November 15, 2011, under a 25-year contract. Under the provisions of the contract, the company was made responsible for 24-hour water supply in all parts of the city, a task the company failed to execute.
Violation of contract
Speaking to Down To Earth (DTE), city mayor Anil Sole said he has authorised the municipal commissioner to take legal action against OCWL for violation of contract provisions, such as taking more than the stipulated 45 days for repair and restoration work, failure to carry out hydraulic testing on new water tanks and pipelines, failure to supply water even in network areas and so on. He rules out cancellation of the company’s contract for the present.
Two days ago, following an uproar in the municipal council with corporators across party lines demanding cancellation of OCWL’s contract, Sole ordered an inquiry into cases of direct tapping into water mainlines in several places, including a recent case discovered at Gangabai Ghat in the eastern part of the city.
Replying to corporators' complaints about the company ignoring public complaints, Sole said municipal water supply engineers will monitor the work of OCWL’s employees to ensure that water-supply work is carried on smoothly. “It is the municipality’s job to ensure proper water supply, and the responsibility from now on rests with the municipality,” he said, addressing the corporators.
'Civic body better manager'
Corporators from the opposition Congress and BSP have expressed dissatisfaction with the measures proposed by the mayor. Speaking to DTE, opposition leader Vikas Thakre of the Congress says that OCWL has neither experience nor the right kind of staff to handle water supply. Trashing mayor Sole’s argument that uneven water supply and water crunch are common during the summer season in Nagpur, Thakre says that the problems that have arisen since OCWL took over are not related to water availability but with management.
“The company has made ridiculous mistakes. For instance, they started water supply from a newly constructed tank in Pratap Nagar area without cleaning it first, with the result that some 20 sacks of rubbish left in the tank found its way into the pipeline, stopping the water supply to the area for 15 days,” says Thakre.
The company also has no knowledge of technical work like plugging leaks and other repair work, Thakre alleges, and in some places, water is supplied only if the corporators make a phone call to the effect. “This sort of problem was never seen while the municipality was managing the water supply,” he says, “The municipality is paying OCWL Rs 5 crore per month for this shoddy supply work. If it takes up the job itself instead, at least Rs 2 crore of public money can be saved every month.”