The Bombay High Court Thursday asked the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA) to consider releasing water from Ujani dam to Jayakwadi dam on humanitarian grounds, so that residents of Aurangabad and surrounding areas can tide over the water scarcity. Pointing out that water supply had gone down to three percent in Jayakwadi dam, the court said the intervener had, in fact, claimed there was no water left in the dam.
The state government had earlier informed the court that water could not be released from Ujani dam to Jayakwadi dam due to “technical reasons”. “We know there is some opposition to this from areas like Nashik and Nagar, but the water should be released on humanitarian grounds. If it is not possible to transport water through water channels, efforts should be made to ensure water reaches through tankers to Aurangabad where water level has depleted,” said Justice V M Kanade.
The HC was hearing two public interest litigations. While one was about shifting IPL out of the state, another petition was filed earlier about not releasing water for the Kumbh ‘Shahi Snan’ last year. The scope of both these petitions was widened to include monitoring of steps being taken by the government to deal with the water shortage in the state.
Acting Advocate General Rohit Deo also informed the court that the state would issue a government resolution within 48 hours to clarify whether every reference made to drought-like situation or drought-affected areas should be read as drought.
On the court’s query on whether it would be able to provide water to drought-affected districts on a daily basis, the state said that while it might not be possible for water to be transported every day, the government would ensure minimum daily requirement of drinking water reaches affected areas and it is transported at least on every alternate day.
“The district collectors of Marathwada and Vidarbha should monitor the water levels in their areas on a daily basis and impose restrictions on holding public functions where large-scale water is utilised. Similar restrictions should also be put on clubs and public gardens where large amounts of water is used,” said the HC. The HC also asked the government to ensure all water tankers are fitted with GPS to monitor their movement.