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Making hay while the water crisis lasts

Mumbai: The city's water crisis has left Mumbaikars frowning but it has brought a smile on the face of tanker owners. The tanker lobby in the city is making the most of the city's water woes by cashing on the citizens plight. They are selling water at almost the double the normal rates and housing societies in plush localities are paying up to meet their daily water requirement.

According to officials in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the annual turnover of the tanker lobby in Bandra alone in close to Rs40 crore. On the Pali Mala Rd in Bandra there are 15 tanker operators, who supply borewell water at Rs1,500 per tanker everyday.

"There has been an acute shortage of water in the last fortnight. We were earlier paying Rs800 for a 10,000 litre tanker, now we have to pay Rs1,600. We are not even sure about the source of the water that we buy," Dinshaw Irani, a member of the Urvashi Terraces Condominium in Khar (west), said.
Many societies are so unsure about the source of water that they have stopped purchasing from tanker operators. The Sadanand Classic CHS at Linking Rd at Bandra (west) is one such society, which stopped buying water from tanker operators, after a few children and senior citizens feel ill after consuming the water.

"Earlier we would pay Rs700. Now we are being charged Rs1,500. Some societies are even paying Rs2,000 but the quality of water is very bad. We expect the prices to go up by 15-20% as the summer approaches," Ram Ajoomal, chairman, Peddar Road Residents Association, said. Currently their monthly expense for non-potable water is Rs1.35 lakh.

Jolly Maker 1 Co-operative Housing Society (CHS) in Cuffe Parade, which has 186 flats and ten bungalows, is paying close to Rs2.40 lakh per month for water to tanker operators. The society calls for 26 tankers every day, six more than what they needed last year.

"Water is a lifeline and we are falling short of that. We call for 26 tankers every day and the crisis only seems to be increasing, which means we will have to call for more tankers," VR Kapoor, secretary, Jolly Maker 1 CHS, said.

Societies across South Mumbai are complaining of the highhandedness of the tanker lobby, who have unceremoniously hiked water prices.

"BMC has imposed a 15% water cut but our shortfall is much more than that. We have been calling for five tankers and our monthly expenditure on tankers is Rs16,000," Manshukhbhai Shah, secretary, Satyam CHS at Napean Sea Road, said.
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