Thousands of residents in the Alappuzha municipal area and eight nearby grama panchayats have been left without running water after a leakage on the pipeline of the Alappuzha drinking water project forced authorities to stop pumping on Friday evening. The leak was detected at Kelamangalam near Thakazhi.

“The leak was discovered a couple of days ago and we continued pumping during daytime. However, it got aggravated on Friday. As harvested paddy is kept above the underground pipeline, we decided to stop pumping as pipe burst would wash away the paddy,” said A. Sheeja, project manager, Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT).

Ms. Sheeja said the repair work would begin after the paddy was transported from there. “We have raised the issue with Supplyco, Agriculture Department and other officials concerned. We cannot plug the leak without shifting the harvested paddy stored there,” she said.

Many pipebursts

Meanwhile, authorities have pressed tankers into service to provide potable water to households in the affected areas. The Alappuzha drinking water project was executed by the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) with Central assistance under the UIDSSMT in 2017. However, since its launch, pipelines under the project have burst more than 50 times, majority of them at Thakazhi and Kelamangalam, in the past three-and-a-half years.

Although a high-level meeting convened by Water Resources Minister K. Krishnankutty in November 2019 had decided to replace 1,524 m of defective pipeline in three months, the work has not yet begun.

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