Even when the pipelines get replaced, there's reason to worry.

Four road cave-ins in four months Hyderabads leaking pipelines problemImage: HMWSB
news Infrastructure Saturday, December 31, 2016 - 15:21

Hyderabad witnessed another road cave-in this week, this time on the busy Sarojini Devi Road opposite Kamat Hotel, making it the fourth such incident in the last few months.

According to authorities, the incident is said to have occurred due to a damaged pipeline which leaked and loosened the soil underneath the road.

Following the cave-in, the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply & Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) swung into action to repair the leak.

While the problem of Hyderabad's crumbling roads is being addressed in certain areas of the city, the number of pipelines leaking underneath new roads, is a cause for concern.

For example, it has been several months since the residents in the areas of Safilguda, Neredmet and Malkajgiri have experienced good roads.

The multi-crore Telangana Water Grid project has seen the HMWSSB undertake work to lay new pipes for two large suburbs. The HMWSSB has been replacing old pipelines that are prone to degradation and decay with new and longer lasting pipes since 2014. However, many roads in this area have been dug up as a result, with large pipes and heaps of mud pushed to one side of the road.

Pedestrians can be seen covering their faces, thanks to the dust that is constantly kicked up on these roads.The bylanes are worse.

Last month, a road at an important junction in the area caved in due to a similar leakage.

At the time, it was reported that the contractor had disconnected another pipeline which supplies drinking water to the area for construction work, but had not reconnected it properly. This led to water leaking from the pipeline and the road caving in.

Despite this, the road is yet to be patched up properly, and has just been filled with mud, with heavy vehicles also continuing to ply on the road.

The citizens in the area, who are already embroiled in an army-civilian conflict over the closure of the Gough Road near AOC, are also not going to get new roads until the pipelines are laid.

However, even with new pipelines and new roads expected to be in place by next year, residents may still face problems.

According to reports, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has directed the HMWSSB to complete the pipeline laying works before May 2017, which may lead to private contractors resorting to sub-standard work in a bid to meet deadlines.  

Already, a senior HMWSSB official was suspended last week, for the shoddy road restoration works taken up in Malkajgiri.

However, there is more to it than meets the eye, says B T Srinivasan, General Secretary of the United Federation of Residents' Welfare Associations.

"As far as the suspension of the officer was concerned, there was nothing that he could have done. There are two main reasons for the shoddy work. Firstly, the GHMC has not given permission to the HMWSSB to block the roads during the day. So every night, a part of the work is done, and it is covered before sunrise, to be dug up again at night," he says.

"Add to that, the insistence of the residents to continuously use that road, without giving time for repair works, and that is the end result," he points out.
As far as the road cave-ins are concerned, Srinivasan says that it is a valid concern.

"There are nine elevated reservoirs that are being planned as part of the project. Till these are completed, the HMWSSB has no way to test the trunk pipelines that it has laid for leakages," he says.

Srinivasan adds that only around 70% of the work has been completed with regard to six reservoirs, while works for the remaining are still at a very early stage.

"As part of the project, there are ground reservoirs that pump water to the elevated reservoirs, which in turn push the water through the trunk lines with pressure. Until test runs are held to see if the new pipes can withstand the pressure, the GHMC cannot give clearance for a permanent road," he explains.

If the roads are laid as the project stands, the residents of the area may soon bear witness to more cave-ins.