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Water crisis: Blame game begins as dry days loom large

Irrigation dept blames Met, which says former didn’t use relevant data.

Written by Nisha Nambiar | Pune | Published: September 5, 2015 2:11:26 am

Even as the meteorological department announced the withdrawal of monsoon from Rajasthan on Friday, blame game has begun between various agencies concerned in Pune for leaving the city ill-prepared for the water crisis that is now staring it in the face.

Pune, like many other parts in the state, has received deficient rainfall this year and Met department has predicted only a few spells of rain in the coming week. Dams supplying water to the city too do not have sufficient water storage.

With crisis looming, it has been announced that from the coming Monday, Pune residents will get water supply only on alternate days.

While the irrigation department has blamed the Met department for “not issuing a quantitative summary of rainfall”, the former has in turn blamed the irrigation department for not taking the right “package” regarding rainfall forecast.

In the meantime, the civic body, which had started bracing itself for deficient rainfall, says they had been awaiting instructions from irrigation department. The civic body has also blamed political leaders for not having announced the water supply cut in time.

“Residents have been needlessly forced into a water crisis situation at the fag end of monsoon season. With the Met department having issued a forecast of less rainfall, it was up to the irrigation department and civic authorities as well as political leaders to decide on a water cut in the first week of August itself. Had they managed from August, residents need not have faced this sudden water cut in the last month of monsoon,” said activist Vivek Velankar.

Former irrigation secretary M D Pendse, however, blamed the Met department. “The Met department believes in giving qualitative rainfall, and not quantitative one. This does not give a clear picture. The irrigation department has to follow the data for the last 100 years,” he said.

Pendse pointed out that the Met department had earlier issued a forecast of 12 per cent deficiency of rainfall for the entire country, which was not enough. He said the forecast about deficiency should be for each sub-division for a clearer picture. “If there was clarity, the irrigation department could have announced water cuts earlier. Moreover, some private agencies had forecast a normal rainfall.”

Earlier, the canal committee meeting under Pune’s guardian minister Girish Bapat had decided to meet again to decide on water cuts since the Met department had forecast a few spells of rain in the first week of September.

However, the rains never came, forcing district administration officials to increase the number of water tankers to parched areas.
On its part, the Met department said they had different “packages” of forecasts and that irrigation officials and authorities should have subscribed to the right package. It has now announced that the monsoon should leave Maharashtra by September 15-20.

“It will be an early withdrawal from the state as was forecast by us earlier. There are enough packages which predict rainfall for a particular area. The irrigation department should have used this data to take necessary decisions,” said B Mukhopadhyaya, additional director general of IMD in Pune.

He said the IMD had a weekly forecast giving information through colour shading for each sub-division and rainfall per day, besides the long-term average giving deviation from the average on maps, extended range forecast and regular updates on monsoon itself.
“I believe that there is a strong resistance to learn new things and understand new products,” Mukhopadhyaya said.

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