Monday Musings: Here’s why there’s abundant water to waste in Pune
Per capita per day consumption of water in Pune is a staggering 352 litres as compared to 260 litres in Mumbai, 129 litres in Solapur and 60 litres in Latur. There’s ample water to waste in this cityUpdated: Jun 03, 2019 15:00 IST
Blessed as it is by no less than 13 dams around it, people residing in many parts of Pune just do not feel the need to conserve water for any reason. On the one hand is the devastating drought in many districts of Marathwada and other parts of the state, said to be worse than the one that occurred in 1972. On the other hand, even within Pune there are localities such as Dhayri and Wakad which are suffering for want of water. We’ve seen people from these localities come out on the streets because their dependence on water from the tankers has become the norm rather than the exception.
What is the scenario elsewhere in Pune? In the Peth areas, Shivajinagar, Aundh, Bopodi and other parts which get piped water supply from the PMC, there’s more than adequate water availability.
Thus, cars are being washed, household plants are being watered liberally; housemaids continue to keep the taps running while washing clothes or utensils and swimming pools are running to capacity. It’s a virtual paradise - a land with ample milk, honey and wateras compared to the waterstarved areas of the city and state.
A few days before voting on May 23 there was high speculation that once the voting was over, heavy water cuts would be introduced across the city. Some prominent newspapers even reported on the low water levels in the dams and how the water cuts were imminent.
But, much to the delight of Punekars, Pune’s guardian minister, Girish Bapat- now the newly-elected member of Parliament from the city- declared magnanimously that there won’t be any water cuts for Pune.
After a meeting with irrigation officials, Bapat said he had been assured that the “dead stock” in the dams was adequate for the remaining days till the rains hit Pune around June 20.
Exactly a year ago, Madhav Chitale, the internationally-renowned water expert said in an interview: “Citizens of Pune consume around 200-250 litres of water per person, which is almost double the standard usage.”
According to data journalists at IndiaSpend, the per capita per day consumption of water in Pune is a staggering 352 litres as compared to 260 litres in Mumbai, 129 litres in Solapur and 60 litres in Latur.
The fact is that Pune suffers from a paradox: Although all residents pay the same water tax, those living in the outlying suburbs of Pune have to purchase water from the water tankers operators or depend on bore wells; those in the heart of Pune and neighbouring suburbs have ample water to waste.
Not wanting to “arrest development”, the PMC conveniently passed on the responsibility of providing as basic a need as water to the builders and developers through its contentious “Water Affidavits” policy. The builders, in turn, promptly submitted these affidavits and supplied water through borewells and tankers initially; leaving the residents to fend for themselves once they exited the residential project.
Meanwhile, poor water management continues on multiple fronts in the PMC. Added to this, the wonderful intervention of rainwater harvesting has remained a lame duck in Pune because no one really cares and there’s ample water to waste in this city.