India’s Malad Tunnel in the suburbs of Mumbai is still gushing out water despite efforts to repair it.

The 12.5km water tunnel was ruptured in February by thieves drilling an illegal bore-well into it.

The tunnel was sealed with rubber rings specially flown in from Bangalore to try to stop the leakage, but without success.

Local authority Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in March decided to revive the old parallel pipeline network, while the ruptured one will be shut, to ensure supply of water to the affected suburbs. Until the tunnel is repaired, hundreds of thousands of litres of water will be wasted.

The BMC was also calling on private tunnel consultants to assist in the repair work, as the job is too complex for its own hydraulic engineers. A water department spokesperson said, “Apart from the expertise, we also need to arrange for sophisticated machinery for the repairs.”

“We are planning to plug the gaps in the old pipeline network, so that it can work efficiently. The pipeline, however, does not reach the far end of each suburb as the network was meant to cover a small area.

But we have no option. The areas which cannot be reached will be provided with water through tankers,” said the spokesperson.

The old network that is due to be reopened, apart from having a restricted reach, is also corroded and there is a fear that it could give way while recharging it.

The spokesperson said, “The reason why the old network was abandoned was due to its age and corrosion.”

Over the next three years, the 100-year-old water pipelines of the city are likely to keep bursting, but BMC has no immediate solution to the problem.

“The pipelines are old and we are in the process of replacing them. But it will take another three years to complete the project,” said hydraulic engineer Vinay Deshpande in a statement.

He added, “We have conveyed our concern to the commissioner for necessary steps to be taken.”