What does it mean to live a few kilometres away from the biggest dam in your region but not have any water reach your village? Ask the villagers of Paithan, for whom the administration's inexplicable water economics pains more than the drought almost every year.
Paithan, to the world outside, is home to the famous Paithani saree that Maharashtrian brides desire in their trousseau; Paithan is also is home to the Jayakwadi dam, one of the biggest dams in Maharashtra. The proximity of the dam underscores the irony of their water woes.
A major part of Paithan’s vast rural belt, a few kilometres away from the dam, doesn’t get water from this dam. Instead, ironically, water from the Jayakwadi dam is carried to areas hundreds of kilometres away from the dam: Aurangabad city, neighbouring district of Jalna and even Parbhani, lying 208 kms away. The dam has a width of nearly 10km, while its one of the biggest in central Maharashtra, or Marathwada region. It can store up to 2170.94 million cubic metres of water.
Despite this, villagers around the dam itself are dry. This skewed distribution perplexes locals who ask the obvios question: why, at least some, water from the Jayakwadi dam cannot be routed to their villages that regularly witness drought-like conditions.
Says Sunil Rathod, an ex-Sarpanch of the Tekdi tanda village, a hamlet in the Paithan district, "We are a few kilometres away from the dam, but are forced to depend on wells and bore wells for our daily supply of water."
Locals said that a village in the area can get water from the dam if it enjoys some political backing, such as Dongaon, next to Tekdi tanda, there are direct pipelines supplying water from the dam.
Rajiv Shinde, tehsildar, admits that the lack of water to Paithan's villages is a problem, but says that such villages are covered with 'individual schemes'. It's a bureaucratic term to mean measures taken to ensure water supply to a single village.
At Tekri tanda, however, even this term is a fig leaf. In the name of a scheme, the government has laid a pipeline from a well, a kilometer and a half away.
Nothing wrong, except that it's a 0.5 inch pipeline, supplying barely enough water for a few families, while the village has at least 1000 people living here.
Tekdi tanda's anguish is shared by most villages around the dam, which have been deprived of the water that they think is rightfully theirs. Porgaon, a village with nearly 1,800 residents, has to depend on one government well, which is fast drying up.
Pradeep Purandare, a retired associate professor from the Water and Land Management Institute (WALMI) in Aurangabad said, “The distribution of Jayakwadi’s water is very problematic. Those villages which have a strong political network can even draw water more than what they need, while those which lack a network are left to fend for themselves.”