MMAN — Through using satellite remote sensing techniques in collaboration with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), authorities have uncovered a major case of water theft, Ministry of Water and Irrigation announced Monday.

The ministry has discovered an illegal 1.5km pipe linked to a major water conveyer in the Tneib region in south Amman, through which the main suspect had been allegedly diverting 1,200 cubic metres from public water supplies daily to his farm, a ministry statement said.

Teams from the ministry and Miyahuna, the firm handling the distribution in the capital, who rushed to the scene faced resistance from the suspect and a group of people “who circled the farm”, the statement said, adding that the farm was also guarded by fierce dogs.

Aided by Gendarmerie and Badia forces as well as the ministry’s teams, the prosecutor general and members of the Higher Judicial Council moved to the spotted location and gave orders to carry out an inspection of the farm, which is located behind the Middle East University, the statement said.

Inspection unveiled a large pool to store the stolen water, which is then pumped to nearby and faraway farms using pipelines, the statement said, adding that owner of the pool allegedly installed gauges on the pipelines to sell water to other farmers.

The ministry’s technical teams then documented the violations in detail, dismantled the pipelines and calculated the amount of water stolen. The farm’s owner was detained for a week, pending further investigation upon directives of the prosecutor general, said the statement.

The Water Ministry has since August last year launched an aggressive campaign to stop water theft and illegal use, including unlicensed underground water wells, blaming the illegal acts for 70 per cent of water waste in the Kingdom, which is among the top world countries in terms of water shortage.