Demand for water tankers is at an all-time high across the state, with villages of Marathwada, Nashik and Pune regions already witnessing 600 to 1,000 times more demand for tankers than March last year.
As per the State Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation records, a total of 3,117 tankers supplied drinking water to 2,485 villages till March 19 this year. Of these 182 were government suppliers, while a whopping 2,935 were private ones, the ministry data indicated. Last year, only 401 villages in the state were facing acute water shortage and were supported by 391 tankers.
With surface water and groundwater reserves depleting in Maharashtra, experts say, the situation in the coming two months, till monsoon, is likely to remain grim. The state’s rainfall during the withdrawal period — mainly experienced during October last year — was merely 33 per cent, thus severely hampering the water reserves in the state.
This March, 1,796 tankers are supplying drinking water across 1,339 villages located in Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed, Parbhani, Hingoli, Nanded, Osmanabad and Latur districts of Marathwada. Last March, 205 villages required 252 tankers, the ministry’s data indicated.
Marathwada, infamous for poor rainfall — it is located along the rain shadow region — recorded 533.4 mm deficit rainfall last monsoon, leaving the sub-division 21 per cent rain deficient. While 97 villages in Nashik, Dhule, Nandurbar, Jalgaon and Ahmednagar districts required 53 tankers in March last year, the affected villages this year stands at 632, requiring 773 water tankers.
Pune district, which generally does not face acute water shortage like Marathwada, this summer is reeling under one of the worst dry spells. Currently, water stock in the five main dams supplying water to Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad is between 40 and 60 per cent.
While merely one village in Satara district was supported by a water tanker in March 2018, this year the number of tankers have jumped to 415 and are being sent to at least 383 villages in Pune, Satara, Sangli, Solapur. So far, Kolhapur district in the division has not required water supply through tankers.