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#WatercutinMumbai leaves slum dwellers in despair

It is a dream for Mumbaikars especially those living in MHADAs, SRAs, and slums, to get a water supply 24×7 in their residential area. After BMC’s decision of 10 per cent cut in water supply, this dream seems to be getting a little more distant with monsoon just ending in the last month. However, considering the amount of rainfall the city had observed, a step to conserve water is essential. Though, it raises a question that how is it justified on the part of the government or BMC to implement water cut neglecting the problems of citizens? This becomes an alarming issue for the slum dwellers, who will face severe water shortage with the decreasing tenure of water supply.

The city would witness a 10 per cent cut in water quantum supplied and a 15 per cent cut in water supply timings. The civic administration had tabled the information about the same before the civic standing committee to bring the water supply cut into effect from November 15. The decision has been taken keeping in view of the less amount of rainfall received this season. Besides Mumbai, the water cut will also be effective in Bhiwandi, Thane, and Kalyan, a statement from BMC read. Nonetheless, the oppositions had walkout from the standing committee meeting alleging that civic administration was misleading the city about the water crisis.

Congress MLA Bhai Jagtap commented, “According to me, it is not justified for the simple reason that the rainfall, particularly in all these lakeside areas was satisfactory. It is understood to cut the water supply in April or May when the water level goes down, we are yet in November.”

“See, there’s a desparity already and it will aggravate further problems. Particularly people living in areas like the slums are the main sufferers all the time of what I have seen. I have been observing this for the last so many years. Rather, what I will suggest the Municipal Corporation is that per head water supply must be maintained strictly irrespective of whether the person leaves in a high-rise or in chawls,” he further added.

Earlier, in July, just a month after the monsoon had begun, the BMC had declared that the city had already received more than 50 per cent of the season’s rainfall quota. If the data is to be believed, the corporation must have an adequate amount of water accumulated for supply until the next season. Later on, with a further in-depth analysis, it was revealed in September that this year, the city has witnessed the lowest amount of rainfall in the last 27 years and also, the city had received only 20 per cent of the required rainfall. The data disclosed by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Santacruz, however, tells a completely different story.

If the Maharashtra government-led by CM Devendra Fadnavis claims the flagship on its water conservation programme, although, looking at the current parched-like situation in the state, the Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan fails to solve the water crisis in the state.

BJP spokesperson Avadhut Wagh stated, “Basically, the total rainfall in the city this year was much less than the average rainfall and the total water availability for Mumbaikars is less than what we get generally. So, to take care of the total season up to June 2019, we have to start saving water which is a decision of hydraulic engineering department of the Municipal Corporation to cut the water supply by 10 per cent for a good amount of water supply in the months of May and June.”

He continued saying, “Recently, a dam has been dedicated to Mumbaikars named as Balasaheb Thackeray Madhya Vaitarna Dam and another one is also coming up. Rainwater Harvesting is also to be considered and Mumbai Mahanagarpalika is doing their level best. The municipality is trying to convert the sewage water into industrial usable water. Six sewage operation projects are going on at Versova, Ghatkopar, Bhandup, Bandra, etc. worth around Rs 15,000 crore.”

As far as the population of Mumbai is concerned, it has increased to more than double in the 27 years. Given the tremendous human burden on the finite resources of a metropolis, with every bout of water shortage due to impoverished monsoons, there is rampant exploitation of groundwater by tanker owners. With the government looking the other way, some 5000 tankers do a brisk business in the city during summer by drawing from 300 private wells and 50 others belonging to various organisations. If we talk about housing societies, there are a few high-rise buildings or even slums for that matter have started rainwater harvesting. Moreover, housing societies are yet to wake up to the importance of water conservation.


Shreejit Guha & Twinkle Mehta

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