ISHRAT SHAIKH’S life has been upended since she got married two years ago. Moving to her husband’s home in Manmad, her life now revolves around procuring every droplet of water possible to meet the needs of her family. The reason: Located 250 km north of Mumbai, Manmad, which once housed one of Asia’s largest granaries, gets water supply only once in 16 days.
Last week, however, the streets of water-starved Manmad were overflowing with flood water. Shaikh had to be evacuated from her house after incessant unseasonal rainfall flooded the city in Nashik district. Her first thought was to store the water.
“I saw water gushing around us and my first instinct was to store it for future use. It breaks my heart to see water go waste. Inspite of a decent monsoon, we get water for an hour in our taps every 16 days,” Shaikh said.
Manmad faces a perennial water crisis. The crisis hit its peak in summer this year, when the Waghdardi dam, from which the city gets its water supply, dried up completely. During summer, the city received water only once a month. A decent monsoon also did not improve the scenario much.
The unseasonal rain that has lashed Manmad over the last 20 days brought some hope, with the city’s three main sources of water — Waghdardi dam, Patoda reservoir and Mahadev reservoir — overflowing. Last week, Manmad saw a record downpour of 135 mm in five hours.
However, all the water went down the drain, as the administration has no mechanism in place to store the same. “There is a problem as we do not have a mechanism to arrest the water in Panjan river that flows from west to east. I will be taking up this issue with the government to ensure that we have better water management system for the city,” newly elected Shiv Sena MLA Suhas Kande said.
Local residents lament the absence of any concrete plan to improve the situation. “It is heartbreaking to see water go waste. People’s, especially lives of the women in Manmad, revolve around procuring water for their families. Had the state made adequate arrangements, the lives of residents would have been transformed,” Lalit Desai, a social activist, said.
The local adminstration claimed that it is looking at ways to improve the water supply. “We are evaluating our water supply plans. Hopefully, in the next few days, the city will get water once every eight days,” said Dilip Menkar, chief officer of Manmad Municipal Council.