A woman who had queued up for water collapsed and died while her mother died of shock in Latur city on Sunday, highlighting the worsening water situation in the district. The tragedy happened just days after the chief minister and his entire cabinet held an important meeting to assess the water situation in Latur and other districts of the drought-hit Marathwada region.
On Sunday, 55-year-old Natabai Tenkale had queued up for her stock of water at a water source from 3 in the morning. In the first round, she carried a pot of water home, which is at a walking distance. But in the second round, she suddenly collapsed and later was declared dead in a hospital. Her mother, Gawlanbai Kamble (80), who had come from Bhadgaon village for her funeral, too collapsed and died at the local hospital around 8 pm.
Civic officials said Latur city has seen at least five such water- related deaths. Latur Municipal Commissioner Sudhakar Telang on Monday told The Indian Express that Latur city has been hit hard by water shortage as the Manjara dam in Dhanegaon village has gone completely dry. “The dam has had no water for past three days due to pathetic rainfall,” said Telang.
As a result, the civic body has not been able to supply tap water. It was otherwise supplying water every 22 days, but from February 22 has completely stopped supply water.
Telang said currently they have pressed into service 70 water tankers that are supplying water to around 4.50 lakh people in the city. “These are civic tankers and we do not charge citizens for this. But many citizens also requisition private tankers,” he said. Telang said the tankers fill water from the purification plant set up by the civic body. “Therefore, the water we supply to citizens is filtered,” he said.
Telang said besides the water tankers, the civic body has provided at least 400 borewells from where citizens can fetch water for washing and other purposes, but not for drinking. “Also, we have provided some points from where citizens can collect water,” he said.
Dr Kalyan Barmade of the Indian Medical Association said Latur is going through its worst water crisis ever. “Every citizen is forced to buy water for Rs 1,000 almost every day as the water quota provided by the civic body is not sufficient to meet needs,” he said.
There are around 150 small and big hospitals in Latur and they have been hit hard. “Recently, two major hospitals, a private and a government hospital, had to stop all surgeries because of lack of water. This went on for a week, which highlights what Latur is going through. Patients refuse to visit hospitals. There is a drop of 50 per cent in patients visiting hospitals for treatment,” he said.
Barmade alleged that politicians are playing with the lives of citizens and said, “Because the civic body is being ruled by the Congress, it is not getting support from the BJP government. Recently, the city’s Congress mayor held a protest outside the legislature and even met the President to highlight the problems of Latur, but nothing happened… people are enduring a nightmare here.”