By: Abhisvara Sinha
With inadequate rainfall in June, the city continues to face a 20 per cent water cut imposed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) a month ago. However, those who face the maximum brunt of water scarcity are people residing in hilly areas of the city, at the extreme end of the water supply lines of the civic body. Residents from Varsha Nagar in Vikhroli (west) and slum dwellers of the Shivaji Nagar area in Malad (east) receive water for less than half an hour, once every three days for the past one month.
“For the last one month, we have been receiving water for 20 minutes once in three days. We share one water tap between two families. Now that the quantity is so less, we can hardly fill half a drum, which is not adequate even for drinking,” Jyoti Nageshwankade, a resident of Varsha Nagar, told Newsline.
With a family of nine to take care of, Jyoti is forced to walk 2 kms downhill everyday to fill water from a well. “During elections, we get three water tankers everyday. Now that we are struggling to have even drinking water, no politician even bothers to help us,” claimed Jyoti.
One of the five slums situated on the hilltop, near Amrut Nagar area in Ghatkopar, used to get water for five hours till the end of June, between 5 and 10 in the evening. With the BMC imposing a water cut, they get water for just 20-30 minutes. The timing changes every 15 days. “The residents of Rahul Nagar and Shivaji Nagar get water once in four days, while another area in the vicinity, the Trilok Housing Society, gets water once in eight days. The BMC continues to be unsympathetic to their situation,” said corporator Dilip Lande from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.
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Darsheeta Thakar, a resident of Shivaji Nagar in Malad, said, “In our block, three families share a water tap. We get water between 10 am and noon. After the civic body imposed a water cut, the duration and quantity have reduced drastically.”
A resident from the nearby Vitthal Rukmani Nivas, Priya Doshi, said, “For the past one month, we have been getting water for only 20 minutes. Apart from the quantity being insufficient, timings change every day, affecting our routine.”
BJP corporator from Malad, Ram Barot, said, “People living on the hills have been facing the same problem for years now. We have lost the count of the number of times we have raised the issue with BMC officials. No concrete steps have been taken till date.”
With very little water to use, residents claim they are forced to take bath on alternate days. “We clean the house one day, wash dishes the next day and at times take bath on alternate days,” said Anjana Gawai, a resident.
Another resident, Lata Savdhekar, said, “We understand that there is water scarcity in the city, but the civic body should ensure that people at least get drinking water. We have to pay Rs 100 every month for water supply. We cannot afford tankers.
With no water for even basic needs, residents started placing containers and buckets to collect rainwater. “We are scared that collecting rain water directly may also lead to contamination, so we don’t use it for drinking but for all other chores,” said Savita Dhanawde.
Though residents are used to the civic body’s apathy, they still have their hopes pinned. “Water cuts have been a feature of our lives for so long that we are accustomed to receiving water only for a few hours in the morning. We can only hope that the BMC takes action against the innumerable complaints that we have filed till date,” said Jayant Gondhalekar, another resident from Malad.
“The city’s profile is not flat, therefore water pressure reduces as we move towards the hilly areas. We are in the process of preparing a list of all these places in the city and have instructed ward-level officers to look into the problems within the system, so we can come up with solutions at the earliest,” said Ashok Kumar Tawadia, deputy hydraulic engineer (planning and control) at the BMC.