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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

Mumbai cops book six people for stealing water worth Rs 73 crore over 11 years

The complainant was filed by Suresh Kumar Dhoka, a tenant in Pandya Mansion, the building on the premises of which two illegal wells were allegedly dug and water pumped out for sale.

mumbai Updated: Oct 17, 2019 11:18 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Six people have been booked for theft of groundwater over a period of 11 years from two illegal wells at Kalbadevi in south Mumbai.
Six people have been booked for theft of groundwater over a period of 11 years from two illegal wells at Kalbadevi in south Mumbai.(HT file photo)
         

In probably a first for Maharashtra, police have booked six people for theft of groundwater over a period of 11 years from two illegal wells at Kalbadevi in south Mumbai, officials said on Wednesday.

Mumbai’s Azad Maidan police registered an FIR against 6 persons for theft of groundwater valued around Rs 73.18 crores over a period of 11 years, new agency ANI reported. The complainant was filed by Suresh Kumar Dhoka, a tenant in Pandya Mansion, the building on the premises of which two illegal wells were allegedly dug and water pumped out for sale.

“Owner of the mansion Tripuraprasad Pandya was drawing water illegally and selling it through water tanker operators,” Dhoka said, adding that Pandya had even obtained illegal electricity metres to draw water through pumps, reports PTI. The complainant collected all the information related to these wells through Right to Information Act, an official said.

With new colonies mushrooming in and around big cities the dependence on ground water is growing by the day with levels depleting alarmingly. Coupled with severe shortage of piped water, the situation is alarming in many states. According to studies by the Indian Institute of Human Settlement, an average person in an Indian city has access to just 69 litres of water per day against the requirement of 135 litres a day.

According to the Central Ground Water Board the projected availability of ground water per capita, per day will crash to 3,670 litres in 2025 from 14,180 litres in 1951.

The case comes in the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strong pitch for water conservation. In his I-day speech and also in a recent episode of monthly radio programme Mann ki Baat, the PM has spoken about the need to preserve water in the face of uneven monsoon and climate change

The PM has urged all Indians to save every drop of water pointing out that only 8% of rains received by the country was being harvested. This was followed by the launch of a water conservation campaign in 225-water stressed districts of the country

In a recent order, the Madras High Court had ruled that those tapping ground water illegally in the water-starved state should be booked for theft. Chennai water crisis reached such magnitude that schools and offices had to be shut for a few days and neighbouring states ran water trains to Tamil Nadu. Of Chennai’s total requirement of 830 MLD (million litres a day) water, the Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewage Board(CMWSSB) was able to supply only about 525 MLD during the worst days of the crisis, according to downtoearth.org.in.