Thursday, June 21, 2012

Article: Viability of Bye-Laws

We the citizens of financial capital of Mumbai are fortunate to have a Municipal Corporation, which is supposed to be one of the most modern or probably the only advanced Municipal Corporation of the country.

Previously Plumbing Licenses were given to the Sanitary Engineer doing courses from any approved institute in British Commonwealth, having two years field experience and passing the written and practical examinations on water supply and drainage conducted by Bombay Municipal Corporation, as it was called in those days. These exams were seriously conducted and some of the candidates who were lacking behind were also failed in the exams.

These exams were based on the knowledge acquired from the field experience and hands-on working based on the Water and drainage Bye-laws. Now the licenses are issued to the Civil and Mechanical engineers regardless of their knowledge in the field. No assessment of their knowledge is done (considering they are adequately knowledgeable in Plumbing). Also of interest is the fact to understand the amount of Plumbing knowledge imparted in engineering institutes.

The very first sentence of Water- Bye-Laws reads as “Bye Laws framed under section 461(a) and (b) of the Municipal act for regulating all matters and things connected with the supply and use of water”. Next title is “Approved by the Corporation under Resolution conformed by the Government of Bombay under their notification No. 3069 of 27th January 1925”

Water Charges rules are being revised on regular basis because it generates the revenue for MCGM but Bye-Laws are not revised/amended till this date as per my knowledge. The latest printed version of the Bye-Laws is same as the original ones. Most of often they are out of stock with the PRO department of Corporation.

I would like to mention few sentences of Bye-Laws here and schedule of Bye-Laws for the knowledge of readers.

Item No. 12. “All consumer pipes and fittings shall be of lead, galvanised iron, cast iron, brass or copper and shall conform in the every respect to the particulars prescribed and specifications given in Schedule “B” attached to these bye-laws

Now the question is has Corporation banned use of lead pipes officially or still one can use lead pipes and fittings as per the bye-laws?

Though Corporation also says that ISI marked pipes and fittings supersedes BMC bye-laws. Till recent past the manufacturers had to struggle to get their ISI marked Pipes and fittings approved from the corporation itself. Now appreciably the practice has been curtailed and a circular issued after request.

Specifications of the faucets/taps given in the bye-laws are also back dated as the latest faucets available and being fixed in new as well as old buildings are aesthetically looking good and some of them are having longer life and they save water if specified.

I also would like to share an experience I had whilst getting concealed fittings certified for one of my projects about five years back, which was required as per bye-laws. Because all the pipes and fittings which are to be buried are required to be shown and got certified before concealing, I had used CPVC pipes of BMC approved make but to my surprise the engineer in charge of certification was unaware of CPVC pipes, its application and BMC approval. I had to request the manufacturer to furnish me the details and had to submit it to the concerned engineer for the records. This hardship would have been avoided if the bye-laws are updated from time to time and validity of the Bye-Laws is fixed. Many of my fellow licensed plumbers must have faced problems due to non-availability of circulars and had to succumb to the interpretation of the engineer in charge of approving of certifying the project.

Use of bore-well water, population criteria for water tanks and connection also are not updated and are still being enforced by circulars.

Do circulars bear any legal standing as the Bye-Laws have? What should be the validity of such a circular in the absence of such revisions in the Bye-Laws?

Now is the time for us to rise and take up the matter with the Hydraulic Engineer’s department to revise Water Bye-laws.

Same is the scenario of Drainage bye-laws. They do not cover new generation materials which are better in many respects than the conventional material. Reclaiming of Sewage needs to be taken care in the drainage bye-laws too.

It also does not cover the special care to be taken to select material for high-rise buildings.

Let’s join hands with the MCGM to improvise this field of Plumbing, which not only is our source of living but also has implications on the lives of the masses.


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