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Another blow after the storm: No water to drink in cyclone-hit areas

By Badri Chatterjee, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUN 08, 2020 12:25 AM IST

Four days after severe cyclonic storm Nisarga made landfall in Raigad, residents of semi-urban and rural areas in the affected talukas are still facing drinking water crisis.

Shrivardhan, Murud and Mangaon areas, which are close to the cyclone landfall site, are facing a shortage of safe drinking water, said district officials. “There is a serious shortage of drinking water supply to most areas, mostly because of electricity being badly affected,” said Nidhi Choudhari, district collector and magistrate, Raigad. “Based on discussions with the state electricity board, we expect power resumption in another four to five days in majority of the eight affected talukas.”

While pipelines carrying water to homes across major towns have been damaged during the cyclone, pumping water from borewells is also no more an option since there is no power.

Saurabh Kudekar, a resident of Tala town in Mangaon, said for the last three days he and his 68-year-old father Rajendra had to walk for two hours to get water from an uncontaminated well in the outskirts of the town.

“We have now decided to rent a generator which costs 1,000 for two hours with an additional cost of diesel. With already having to pay for house repairs, machinery for cutting and removing fallen trees as well as the fear of Covid-19 pandemic, this is a disastrous period for us,” said Kudekar. “Some people in our town have also bought power generators for drinking water supply,” he added.

However, for residents of isolated villages closer to Murud and Shrivardhan, power generators were not an option, said residents.

“The local administration had told each household in our village to stock up on drinking water for at least two to three days after the cyclone. We had done that but now we are running out, and so far not one person from the district administration or local tehsildar level has come to our aid yet,” said Dattatreya Karanje, a resident of Aravi village, Shrivardhan.

Sadanand Wagre from Rajapuri in Murud taluka said several power generators, which are used during television and film shooting, are available.

“Authorities can use them for the time being to supply electricity in affected areas for drinking water. Also, dysfunctional tubewells in villages far from the coast need to be fixed as they are not even aware of how long electricity or mobile networks will not be available to them,” Wagare said.

The district collector said the provision of providing generators across affected locations had begun from Sunday under the regional rural water supply schemes.

“The process to supply generators is underway for remaining areas as well. We are also sending tankers to fill the village wells. Water quality checking of these wells is being done by gram panchayats before advising anyone to use them as drinking water source,” said Choudhari.

The two National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) officers, who were injured during tree removal operations on Saturday, are both out of danger, said officials.

“On Sunday, we carried out a massive exercise of clearing all village roads in Shrivardhan. We have already established a minimal mobile phone network there, and hundreds of generators have been sent under the water supply schemes. By Monday, we expect to finally assess final property damages, loss of trees and electric lines,” said Choudhari.

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