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Monday, September 25, 2023

Acute Water Scarcity in Certain Areas on the Outskirts of Mumbai

Thane rural area is close to Mumbai, but devoid of basic amenities

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Raju Vernekar
Raju Vernekar
Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

INDIA: Despite claims of all-around development by the Maharashtra government, certain inaccessible areas in Thane district, on the outskirts of Mumbai, are facing acute water scarcity, and eventually the water will have to be supplied by tankers to these parched areas.

Out of the 400 odd adivasi hamlets in Shahapur taluka of Thane districts, the wells in nearly 144 hamlets have dried up. The water is being brought by tankers from the Bhatsa River, located about 30–40 km away, and dropped in the wells.

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Nearly 700 wells and 900 hand pumps have dried up. Besides, the local water supply schemes have also failed to provide much-needed water.

As of now, the people in Shahapur and other areas have been going through an ordeal of crowding the wells to fetch the water no sooner did the water tankers sent by the Thane Zilla Parishad arrive.

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Water scarcity is faced not only in Shahapur, but the situation is the same in other areas, including Asangaon, Atgaon, and Kasara.

Last year, the administration spent Rs 2 crore to supply water by tankers, and this year that cost is expected to go up to Rs 3 crore since more hamlets are facing water scarcity, Kailash Bharode, a local activist and journalist, told the Transcontinental Times.

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This is the same area where major dams, including Mid-Vaitarna, Modak Sagar, Tansa, and Bhatsa, are located. However, the entire supply from these dams is routed to Mumbai, and the local population is left high and dry.

There are also reports that the water from the Mid-Vaitarna reservoir is clandestinely sold to some of the resorts located on the Mumbai-Nashik highway.

There is a plan to bring in water from the Bhavali dam located at Igatpuri (Nashik) to the Shahapur area, but by the time that scheme is implemented, a few more years will pass by, Bharode said.

The area is inhabited by tribal people who partly depend upon farming and do other menial jobs like working in brick kilns, construction sites, etc. to eke out a living, Bharode said.

Reacting to the problem of water scarcity, Thane Zilla Parishad PRO Reshma Arote told the Transcontinental Times that not only Shahapur but other talukas in the Thane district are also facing water scarcity. As such, the water has been supplied to affected areas by tankers since February this year.

Nearly 80,000 people from 52 villages and 158 hamlets are being supplied with water through the tankers. Water scarcity affects not only Thane’s rural areas, but also the city. Consequently, a one-day water restriction once a fortnight is being enforced, she added.

In fact, in March 2020, the state government approved a Rs 198.59 crore Regional Rural Water Grid Scheme for 97 villages in Shahpur taluka, which was to be implemented by the “Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran”. However, going by the current scenario, the scheme seems to have remained only on paper.

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  • Raju Vernekar

    Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

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