After three months of acute water shortage, residents of Pimpri-Chinchwad recently heaved a sigh of relief when the municipal corporation restored water supply every day, about 10 days ago. However, their relief was short-lived, as the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has decided to implement water cuts once again.
The decision has been taken despite the fact that Pavana river has ample water and the Pavana dam is filled to capacity. The river and the dam are the two main sources of water for Pimpri-Chinchwad. This time, the PCMC decided to introduce water cuts once a week. Civic officials said from Monday, the city will be divided into seven zones and each zone will face water cuts once a week.
“We are forced to implement water cuts to ensure equal distribution of water,” Joint City Engineer Makrand Nikam told The Indian Express. “This will help us ensure supply to areas which otherwise face water shortage”.
The decision has drawn fire from local residents, activists and even the civic Standing Committee, which accused the PCMC administration of trying to create “artificial water shortage”.
Back in May, the PCMC had started supplying water on alternate days as the water stock in Pavana dam had depleted in the harsh summer months. While the PCMC finally restored regular supply a few days ago, the civic administration was apparently not sure about the decision. Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar had insisted that alternate day water supply should continue as it would ensure equal distribution, help save water and avoid a crisis in case of inadequate rain later in the year.
The move to cut water supply once a week was first discussed at the PCMC’s Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday. The committee members strongly opposed the move, accusing the administration of creating “artificial water shortage” to push the commissioner’s agenda. Several members, including Pankaj Bhalekar, Aarti Choundhe, Rajendra Gawde, Santosh Londhe and Rahul Kalate, raised the issue.
“The commissioner has been repeatedly saying he favoured water supply on alternate days. Therefore, the administration is pushing his agenda,” said Bhalekar.
“The corporators were agitated. They were not able to understand why, after heavy rain, flood-like situation and full river and dam, water cuts are still being introduced,” Standing Committee chairman Vilas Madegiri told The Indian Express.
Madegiri, a BJP leader, said the administration had told him that since some areas were getting a lower amount of water and other areas were receiving excess water, the civic administration has decided to opt for water cuts once a week to ensure equal distribution. “Every day, we will save 50 MLD water, which means 1,500 MLD will be saved in a month. This will help us tide over the water crisis in the future,” he said.
Local residents, too, have questions about why, despite a dam full to its capacity, their taps will run dry once a week. “For two-and-a-half years, the BJP has been ruling the civic body. Hardikar has been the commissioner for the same period. Why did they fail to put a working system in place? It is a failure of the administration and the ruling party,” said Manav Kamble, who heads the Nagari Haqq Suraksha Samiti.
Nikam, however, said the PCMC system was not sturdy enough to draw additional water from the river. “Besides, we can’t lift more than the quota allotted by the Irrigation department,” he said.
Hardikar said the move will ensure proper distribution of water throughout the city and fewer complaints from local residents who face water shortage. “We need to plan ahead to avoid any shortage in the future. Local residents should get used to saving water,” he said.