An industrial hub in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district with 5,000 units and tens of thousands of workers may shut down in 10 days as its intake well is running dry because of the third successive drought in the region.
The hub draws water from the Nathsagar reservoir of the Jayakwadi dam that is operating at dead storage level, when the height of water is lower than the sluice gates and has to be pumped out.
The hub has four industrial centres near Aurangabad spread across 3,134 hectares that uses 54 million litres of water a day, including the drinking water supply of 13 adjoining villages.
If the water supply dries up, it will render tens of thousands of workers jobless in the searing heat of May in the district that is one of the eight districts in the state’s parched Marathwada region.
Many of them migrated to the industrial hub from Marathwada’s rural hinterlands where daily strife over water is common and tankers are the local resident’s mainstay. Over 1,100 farmers committed suicide in the past year in the region due to the drought and the deepening agrarian crisis.
To solve the problem, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) sent a letter on Tuesday to the state government, seeking permission to build a canal from the dam to its intake well.
But the proposed canal will fall in the ambit of the Jayakwadi bird sanctuary and requires a go-ahead from the forest department that said such clearances couldn’t be given immediately.
The letter from the MIDC industrial area to the divisional commissioner, Umakant Dangat said the “intake well has water only up to May 1 and as such permission may be given to dig a 700-metre-long canal from the submergence area of the dam up to it to ensure supply continues”.
MIDC officials said that they expected such a situation and prepared tenders for the work a month in advance but did not expect the forest department hindrance.
Dangat admitted that such a situation had arisen. “I received the letter yesterday and we will do what is necessary to see to it that the MIDC area doesn’t shut down. There is enough water in the dead storage of Jayakwadi and this can be tapped. If a canal has to be built, we will do it,” said Dangat. He, however, did not clarify on how exactly the MIDC was planning to overcome the forest department hurdle in 10 days.