Helium is an odourless, tasteless, colourless, non-toxic, inert gas. When introduced into water, it escapes through leaks in the pipework. The water carries the gas out of the pipe, and it rises to the surface. The escaping gas is an indicator of water-wastage.
Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has introduced the helium gas technology to detect leakages in supply pipelines that carry potable water.
The KMC decided to go ahead with this water-loss management project after a World Bank study reported that 40% of clean water produced in Kolkata goes to waste.
Sovan Chatterjee, the Mayor of Kolkata, inaugurated the ₹212 crore project, covering 202 km of pipes funded by the Asian Development Bank, and executed by Suez India Private Limited, on December 5.
A team of experts drilled a hole every three metres on the road. Keeping an eye on drilled spots, the team was able to spot 8 zones. First put into use in the Tallah area in November, this method, according to a KMC official, is popular in Europe and is being implemented by different state governments and municipal corporations. Kerala is another state which is currently using this technique.
Areas were mapped, and water meters were installed at the primary supply lines, and small meters were installed in households, to read water-consumption pattern. A civic official spoke to the Times of India, and said, “We have already installed over 100 small meters in areas such as Paikpara, Tallah and Northern Avenue. Areas like BT Road, Dum Dum, Cossipore Road, RG Kar Road and Bagbazar Street will also be covered soon.”