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Water crisis deepens in Maharashtra’s Sangli ahead of Lok Sabha polls third phase

Residents in Sangli spoke to ANI and said that Jat, Kavthe-Mahankal, Tasgaon Vita, Atpadi and Khanapur are among other numerous 'talukas' in the district currently facing a dire shortage of water, causing significant apprehension among local inhabitants.

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Several ‘talukas’ (tehsil) in Maharashtra’s Sangli district are grappling with acute water scarcity, leading to growing concerns among residents in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

With the elections looming, addressing this pressing issue has emerged as a key topic of discussion among voters. Residents in Sangli spoke to ANI and said that Jat, Kavthe-Mahankal, Tasgaon Vita, Atpadi and Khanapur are among other numerous ‘talukas’ in the district currently facing a dire shortage of water, causing apprehension among local inhabitants.

This issue has gained traction among voters who have shown significant interest in it, expressing a preference for candidates who pledge to address the problem effectively. “Water scarcity is a major issue here due to minimal rainfall. We are dependent on water tankers for drinking water, and dependent on wells and canals for irrigation. While some irrigation canals from the Krishna River exist, the problem remains critical,” Patanrao Vishu Patil, a resident of Alte area in Tasgaon, told ANI.

Patil further emphasized that the community is determined to support the Lok Sabha candidate who commits to resolving this issue effectively. Another resident of Alte, Shivaji Bhanudas Chavan, told ANI: “For years, several talukas in Sangli district, including Jat, Kavthe-Mahankal, Tasgaon Vita, Atpadi, and Khanapur, have grappled with drought conditions due to scanty rainfall. Despite relying heavily on irrigation canals stemming from the Krishna River, certain areas continue to face water scarcity. We also use wells and ponds to preserve water for irrigation.”

Asked if residents bring up this issue with politicians campaigning for their votes during the Lok Sabha polls, Chavan affirmed, “Yes, we do.” “We have been highlighting the water scarcity problem for years. Additionally, we have made the decision to support those who will address the water crisis,” he told ANI. In response to worsening water scarcity, the administrations of Sangli and its nearby Satara districts last month enforced prohibitory orders along canals. These measures aim to curb water theft and prevent the transportation of cattle fodder outside the regions.

Following a deficient monsoon season, officials said dams and reservoirs in Sangli and Satara districts failed to reach their maximum capacity. Nearly seven months later, most lakes and ponds in the region have dried up, exacerbating water scarcity. The primary sources of water now are dams situated upstream of the Krishna River and its major tributaries, notably the Warna River. However, these dams, including Koyna and Chandoli, are grappling with dwindling reserves.

With about 1,060 hamlets in Sangli and Satara districts left without access to drinking water, local administrations have sprung into action. Responding to this urgent need, authorities have dispatched around 250 water tankers to each district, aiming to provide vital drinking water to affected communities. Sangli District Collector Raja Dayanidhi reportedly last month announced the imposition of prohibitory orders due to the prevailing moderate drought conditions caused by limited water availability. The officer then made it clear that the orders will be effective until the end of May, and that it prohibits the assembly of two or more individuals within a 200-metre radius along the canals.

Officials said invoking prohibitory orders is a standard practice during public emergencies. In an effort to manage the water crisis, prohibitory orders have been extended to canals reliant on major lift irrigation schemes in Sangli district. These schemes, including the Tembu, Arphal, Krishna, and Mhaisal lift irrigation schemes, which collectively provide water to 80 per cent of the district’s population.

Water crisis issues gained momentum as the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections will take place on May 7, when 94 constituencies from 12 states, including Maharashtra, will go to the polls. In the third phase, Baramati, Raigad, Osmanabad, Latur (SC), Solapur (SC), Madha, Sangli, Satara, Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Kolhapur, and Hatkanangle will go for polls.

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