Maharashtra: ‘Collective Measures, People’s Support Must To Tackle Water Scarcity: Minister Gulabrao Patil

While Maharashtra is reeling under acute drinking water shortage, the state government has initiated steps to ensure that the situation does not worsen further, particularly in the wake of scorching heat. Inadequate monsoon has led to a substantial decline in water levels across 2,994 dams in the state, dropping from 80.94% on January, 2023, to 55.09% in January, 2024, the Ujani dam, one of the largest in the state, has reached its dead stock level, further pointing towards the grave situation.

“We are aware of the grave situation and have drawn an action plan wherein we take stock of the available water resources daily at village-level. We have formed a committee at every village-level comprising the Block Development Officer (BDO), Tehsildar and Legislator which regularly updates about the available resources. The ministry then takes stock of the situation and asks the officials to initiate steps accordingly,” Maharashtra Minister for Water Works and Sanitation, Gulabrao Patil said.

Reiterating that the support of people is a must to tackle the water situation, the minister said that people themselves should manage the available water resources and act accordingly. “Our thrust is to absorb the available water storage from natural resources while use of water tankers is the last resort. Till now, we have used almost 3,000 tankers to supply water in the villages where there is acute water shortage. These tankers have been pressed into service in Marathwada, Vidarbha, Western Maharashtra and other areas,” the minister said and added that we need to manage the water supply from available resources only.

Asked about the reason behind such a grave situation in the state, Patil said, “Poor monsoon and abandoned water conservation schemes is the primary reason behind the shortage. Added to that is the scorching heat that has further brought down the ground water level. We need to take collective steps to ensure that we save enough water to supply to the areas where there is absolutely no water,” the minister said and appealed to the people of the state to use water judiciously.

Asked if unseasonal rains in some parts of the state like Vidarbha and Pune region would be helpful in increasing the water level, the minister replied in the negative and said that the only alternative is to save the water and pray for sufficient rains so that all the water bodies are full to their capacity and the state is in a position to meet water demand next year.

In Maharashtra, urban areas are entitled to 135-150 litres of water per person per day, depending on the population, while rural areas are entitled to 40-70 litres per person per day. As on March 31, 2024, in the sugar belt of Western Maharashtra, dam water storage is down to 41.5% of capacity compared to 69.5% at this time last year. In North Maharashtra, too, dam water levels are low at 41.4% of the capacity compared with 57.5% last year.

Published on: Friday, May 10, 2024, 08:44 PM IST

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