ON EITHER side of the Vitthalwadi Road running through Khadegolavali in Kalyan (East) lie the Sai Baba chawl and the Sai Sangham chawl, home to over 4,000 people who are now battling an unprecedented water shortage. A municipal pipeline exists in the vicinity, providing residents of Sai Baba Chawl with water twice a week for about one to two hours each, but somehow completely bypassing the residents of Sai Sangham chawl.
Shraddha Pandvekar, a resident of Sai Baba chawl, says, “There is so little water that comes even on those two days. I can barely fill four pots of water, which we use for washing, cooking and even in the toilet. I have left my job and am here awaiting water.”
Unwashed utensils in her kitchen sink and empty drums lined up in the toilet, Pandvekar describes how the water cuts have forced her to ration water.
“The corporation says boil and drink the fresh water that comes. But how can I depend on something that comes twice a week,” she says.
The shortage has forced families to stock up weeks in advance compromising the quality of water consumed. The chawl is also home to borewells that used to complement the municipal supply, but have now run dry.
“All the water that comes to Vitthalwadi is absolutely filthy. We don’t get water and what we get has dirt and muck in it. But we are forced to boil this and drink. My daughter is four years old and her teeth are eroding. The doctor says it’s the water, but what do I do? I apply medicine on her teeth but we have no alternative but to give her the same water,” says Karishma Vishwakarma, a resident of Sai Baba chawl.
Many mothers complain of the dirt in the yellowed water brought to them through the pipeline. They hold the water responsible for the bouts of jaundice plaguing the chawls.
“I was diagnosed with a serious case of jaundice and the doctor blamed the water we consumed. But we get only this water. We boil it before drinking. This happens to every other household here,” says 34-year-old Rajeshwari Behara of Sai Sangham Chawl.
Despite the health hazards, as there exists only this single source of water, the residents cannot afford to pay attention to the distinction between drinking water and those used for other needs.
The unhygienic storage of water in their homes is another factor that contributes to consumption of unclean water, residents concede.
At Sai Sangham chawl, it is the fourth day without water and frustrated women complain of the difficulties ranging from using the washroom to making water available for everyone.
“We are forced to borrow water from each other or those living a little far off. A four- to six-day water cut restricts even the food I make at home. Everything is stalled when there is no water,” says a resident.
While the area’s corporator has arranged for a water tanker for the area, the residents complain that its trips are irregular, only adding to people’s frustration.
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