THE state government has decided to evolve comprehensive urban centric policies to tackle the growing challenges of water crisis in cities across Maharashtra. An internal assessment has revealed that the rural-centric water conservation and irrigation projects cannot provide a lasting solution to the urban problems.
Cities such as Latur, Amravati, Akola, Buldhana, Parbhani, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Aurangabad and Solapur are reeling under major water crisis. Mumbai, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Navi Mumbai, Kolhapur and Sangli, among others, are facing challenges on the water front because of population growth, industries and stagnant water sources.
The government plans to extend the urban water solution programmes across 21 to 25 cities and towns in Maharashtra.
At a series of meetings held with urban elected representatives, it was reported that while the emphasis on tackling water crisis in rural areas keeping in mind farmers’ problems was important but the government would have to effectively intervene to tackle the challenges confronting the urban population, and not leave it to the municipal bodies to find lasting solutions.
The ministries of urban development, water resources, industries and finance will come together for the integrated urban water plan.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has urged officials to prepare a category-wise plan for urban population with water solution projects, factoring in rainfall, type of irrigation and water conservation work, and industries roadmap for the next two decades.
The urban household, which consumes more water on the domestic front compared to rural houses, is also being looked into the new policy.
Fadnavis acknowledges, “Maharashtra has a 45 per cent urban population. The challenges posed by the rapid growth of urbanisation is no longer confined to the industries and infrastructure. The biggest task is to make very urban conglomerate water surplus.”
It was discussed that the government might have to take some corrective measures, where necessary, to ensure drinking water sources were not exploited by industries or factories.
Urban water projects are mostly on papers as of now. “On the lines of rural Maharashtra, the state government will have to generate greater public participation to ensure its implementation. But we have no long-term projects tailored to tackle the water crisis in cities,” said an official in the water resources department.
Citing an example, the official said, “Even within the cities, we will have to implement different projects. What can be applicable to Latur, Aurangabad and Solapur, cannot be replicated in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Pune and Thane.”
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