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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Pune’s Wagholi residents continue to fight for water

Members of housing societies are battling water shortage and an exorbitant rate for water from tankers

pune Updated: Feb 28, 2019 14:41 IST
Nadeem Inamdar
Nadeem Inamdar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Residents are relying only on water tankers for their daily water needs. The water crisis in the area has worsened in the past three years.
Residents are relying only on water tankers for their daily water needs. The water crisis in the area has worsened in the past three years.(RAHUL RAUT/HT PHOTO )
         

Even before the onset of the summer season, the water crisis is looming large for the residents of Wagholi. The area has been facing water problems for atleast five years now and attempts made by residents to solve the issue has not borne fruit.

The Wagholi Housing Society Association which represents atleast 200 residential societies in the area has been spearheading a water conservation and availability campaign. There are atleast 2 lakh residents in the area.

According to the association, the water tanker business is estimated at ₹100 crore and the residents insist that the state be made accountable to the area.

“:The association carried out a water potability test on the water supplied by water tankers and found that the water was not within the acceptable limits of drinking water specifications. The report has pushed the residents to escalate the matter to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra by writing a letter to him.

While the residents are paying water tax of Rs60 lakhs per year to the Gram Panchayat, each society is spending between Rs 2 lakh and Rs5 lakh per month for water obtained from tankers,” Harcharanjeet Butalia, one of the directors of Wagholi Housing Society Association

DEMAND DOES NOT MEET SUPPLY

The entire area is governed by Wagholi Gram Panchayat with supervisory and executive control exercised by the Pune Metropolitan and Regional Development Authority (PMRDA). While the residents require 2,70,00,000 litres per day, the water supplied by panchayat is only 20,25,000 litres per day.

“The societies are paying Rs 600 for a 6000 litre water tanker, Rs 900 for a 10,000 litre water tanker and Rs 1,800 for 20,000 litre water tanker. The association in a letter to PMRDA and Gram Panchayat has pointed out that the water tankers were charging double the actual and reaattention sonable cost, and that it was the duty of the PMRDA and gram panchayat to provide the residents with water,” said Sanjeev Kumar Patil, another director of the association.

While the residents are battling water crisis, the tanker operators insist that they are not making a business out of it.

“Inflation is the main reason behind the increase in cost per water tanker. The fuel prices also have gone up. Water is not a business but a means of service to the residents. The government has failed the residents and so, we have chipped in,” said Pradip Kand of Mahalaxmi water tankers.

“Water scarcity has become a permanent phenomenon now. The administration has not paid to our issues. Societies are paying hefty water bills which are collected from residents. It is the duty of the government to provide water to the Wagholi residents. Here, it is the private water tankers who are controlling the water trade and the administration has failed us.

“We have asked the chief minister to intervene and resolve the issue at the earliest. The tanker operators must supply water at half the rates at which they are currently charging,” Patil said.

While Wagholi Gram Panchayat for its population of atleast 2 lakh should have a class 1 grade officer, what it has it a Class III grade officer, Madhukar Date. “The administration of the gram panchayat is not able to discharge its responsibilities as the population is atleast 2 lakh. The panchayat was formed to cater to a population of 15,000 people only.

“We are still doing our best to help the people. Wagholi must be merged either with Pune Municipal Corporation or be given the status of a municipal council town as it is not longer a Gram Panchayat. The new water scheme has been sanctioned by the PMRDA where funds of Rs 22 crore have been allotted.

“The water supply department gave its approval to the scheme on Monday after six months of review, to ensure that residents do not face water scarcity ,” he said.

First Published: Feb 28, 2019 14:40 IST