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Maharashtra govt cracks whip to stop misuse of drinking water in drought-hit districts

The government called for stricter norms for water release regulation.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai |
March 11, 2016 3:32:26 am
maharashtra government, drought in mumbai, mumbai drought, save water, devendra fadnavis, Girish Mahajan, marathwada, mumbai news Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis

The state government has issued directives to the district collectors to strictly enforce available water in dams for drinking purpose and not allow its lifting for agriculture or industries in the drought-hit parts of the state.

The series of meetings which has been convened by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan, Industries Minister Subash Desai saw the government calling for stricter norms for water release regulation.

In all the eight districts of Marathwada, three districts of Vidarbha, three districts of Western Maharashtra and two districts of North Maharashtra, the government has urged the collectors to steep up the water regulation policy. Ahead of the peak summer, it is also working to see how inter-districts can come to help mitigate dry spell in Marathwada.

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To begin with, all the private drinking-water sources village wise are being declared for public use with a rider that it will not be allowed for any other purpose than drinking. The model which have been worked by Solapur and Osmanabad district collectors will be replicated to other parts of Beed, Latur, Parbhani, Aurangabad and Jalna for at least coming summer. Both district collector of Osmanabad and Solapur – Prashanat Narnavra and Tukaram Mundhe – are working on model to ensure 100 per cent drinking water to villages with a minimum misuse of private tankers.

A senior officer said, “Often in the name of water supply, these private contractors avail the villages well water to sell it to poor farmers.

Yet, wherever we need, outside water tankers will be deployed in remotest villages.”

Highly placed sources in the government said, “The chief minister has spelled out categorically that there cannot be any compromise on drinking water to the people which is the fundamanetal right. Whether it is dams, rivers or any other sources which can be channelled for drinking water supply should be exploited to its optimum potential to meet the drought situation.”

A senior cabinet minister told The Indian Express, “We have directed the district collectors to strictly audit the water sources and ensure there is not a single village across state where people are left thirsty. In district where the situation is grave – such as Beed, Latur, Osmanabad (Marathwada) and Solpaur (Western Maharashtra) – it is expected to make provisions for drinking water for the next four months. The lifting of water from available dams and wells would not be allowed for agriculture and industries.” While maintaining that there was no need for blanket moratorium or ban on water for agriculture and industries, sources revealed, “We have asked the collectors to take the decisions based on the ground situation.”

While admitting that were concerns about industries in district like Aurangabad, sources said, “In some sectors, the industries may have to compromise keeping in mind the drought situation.”

The recurring drought for fourth consecutive year has also called for water cuts in parts of North Maharashtra and parts of Western Maharashtra. Citing an example of Nashik which is amongst the golden trinagle, a senior leader said, “We have decided to enforce better water management even in districts which are not necessarily classified as drought-hit. In Nashik, we have decided to enforce some cuts to facilitate the water from Godavari basin to parched stretch of Marathwada once a week.”

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