Pune city’s water woes are all set to disappear as it is set to receive regular water supply from Monday. For the past three-four months, Pune city was getting alternate day water supply and now daily water supply has been restored, officials said.
District Guardian Minister Girish Bapat while addressing the media on Saturday said the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) will receive 1,200 million litre water per day (MLD) instead of the present 850 MLD it was being allowed to lift from the Khadakwasla canal.
Since the last few days, politicking over the water cuts in the city has assumed centrestage with all political parties barring the BJP throwing in their hat. Mayor Prashant Jagtap and others have been demanding regular water supply to the city which the civic administration and the irrigation department refused to comply with. NCP, Congress, MNS and Shiv Sena had criticised Bapat over the waters cuts at a time when the majority of the dams which supply water to PMC were “reasonably full”. In response, Bapat had called a special meeting of all the people’s representatives and officials at Council Hall to discuss the matter.
Prior to the meeting, MNS members had protested outside the venue while Mayor Jagtap and other leaders of the PMC had led a sit-in protest inside the venue. The mayor and other leaders had continued their agitation well after Bapat had entered the hall for the meeting. Most of them entered the venue only after the arrival of NCP leader and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar.
During the course of the meeting, irrigation officials stated that PMC draws the 15.52 TMC of water as against the 5 TMC quota allocated to it by the original agreement between the irrigation department and the civic body. Officials said that the over-utilisation of water by the civic body had put strain on the water distribution system downstream.
At present, the Khadakwasla canal system has 25.47 TMC of water which is 87.33 per cent of its maximum capacity. Other than meeting both the drinking water and agricultural needs, the Khadakwasla system has to release water to the Ujani dam as per orders of the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA).
Pawar and other PMC leaders had asked for 1,250 MLD of water to be released for Pune. During the discussions, many leaders had pointed out how Pune’s population had grown many times and how the city has a floating population of over 5 lakh.
Congress leader Arvind Shinde, RPI leader Dr Siddharth Dhende and the mayor reminded how last year, PMC had not seen such severe cuts although the water level in the dams was at least 14 TMC. During the meeting, NCP MLA from Indapur, Datta Bharne, had demanded that the rural area should not face any water scarcity due to excess water being released to Pune.
It was finally decided that the irrigation department will release 1,200 MLD of water for the city from Monday. “We will continue this till the dams continue to discharge water directly in the river. The situation will be reviewed after a month and the canal committee will meet in October to decide about next year’s water management,” said Bapat.
Commenting about the politics being played over water, Bapat said that it was unfortunate and there should not be any divide between the rural and urban population. “I have never indulged in politics over water and as a Guardian Minister have always been fair,” he said. Instead of politicking, the mayor said he should bring down the leakage losses in PMC’s water distribution system.