Pune, 8th August 2022: The water scarcity in Pune forces the residents of urban areas of the Pune district to approach the Bombay High Court for a solution.
Eleven prominent NGOs, Housing Federations, Akhil Bhartiya Grahak Panchayat, and Resident Associations across Pune filed a PIL 19428/2022 on 5th August:
1) Wagholi Housing Societies Association’s Mr Nitin Kumar Jain, Director
2) Pune District Co-Operative Housing Societies and Apartments Federation’s Mr. Suhas Patwaradhan, Chairman
3) Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat’s Mr.Vijay Ganapati Sagar,Sanghatak
4) Pimpri-Chinchwad Co-operative Housing Societies Federation Ltd’s Mr Dattatray Deshmukh, Chairman
5) Baner Pashan Link Road Welfare Trust’s Mr Rajendra Chuttar, President
6) Balewadi Residency Co-operative Housing welfare federation Ltd’s Mr Ramesh Gangadhar Rokade, Chairman
7) Dear Society Welfare Association’s Mr Yuvaraj Uttam Pawar, Chairman
8) Bavdhan Citizens Forum’s Dushyant Omprakash Bhatia, Member
9) Hinjawadi Employees and Residents Trust’s Mr Dnyanendra Chandrabhanu Hulsure, President
10) Aundh Vikas Mandal’s Mrs Vaishali Jayant Patkar
11) Association of Nagar Road Citizens Forum’s Mrs Qaneez E Fatemah Sukhrani Convenor
PIL is filed against:
1. Union of India (Department of Water Resources)
2. Central Ground Water Board
3. State of Maharashtra (Water Resources Department)
4. Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran 5. Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority
6. Pune Municipal Corporation
7. Pimpri Chinchawad Municipal Corporation
8. Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority
9. Zila Parishad Pune
Pune district has approximately 18,000 Co-operative Housing Societies, 15,000 Housing Apartment Complexes, and other kinds of residential premises.
Almost all the urban regions of Pune District coming under PMC, PCMC, the PMRDA, the Zilla Parishad Pune and other local authorities are facing extreme shortage of domestic use water supply from the local authorities.
The Residents, Housing Societies, and Apartment Complexes are forced to spend huge amounts of money to purchase daily domestic use and drinking water from private vendors. In some cases, a single housing society is forced to spend over One Crore and Fifty Lakhs Rupees (1,50,00,000/- Rupees) per year to purchase domestic use water. Urban areas in the Pune district are now under a strong grip of the water tanker mafia.
People are forced to consume unchecked, possibly polluted, and expensive water for daily domestic use. People have no way to know what is the source and quality of water that is supplied by private water tankers.
The local NGO’s and Residents associations have conducted several meetings with respective local authorities, made representations to the respective local bodies/authorities however the situation remains to be precarious and such efforts have not resulted in any improvement in water supply.
There has been tremendous growth in the population of Pune District since the past 2 decades which in turn has led to increase in construction activity of residential and commercial premises. When the builders receive the permissions for new constructions, they are blatantly notified by the authorities that the builders will have to make their own arrangements for the construction activity and for the residents who will occupy the new premises. The Builders rampantly dig borewells and exploit the ground water without any accountability.
For the past 3 to 4 years even after receiving ample rainfall, the residents of urban areas of Pune district are facing severe water shortage. On the other side the concrete jungle is increasing in an unfettered manner in and around urban areas of Pune. This raises the question over sustainability of the growth and development plans of Pune District and its local bodies.
Several of the Housing Complexes were built along with the provision of one or more borewells keeping in mind the possibility of shortage of domestic use and drinking water. Initially such borewells were a supplementary source of water to the respective housing complexes. However, due to rampant construction activity, uncontrolled drawing of groundwater, lack of, or failure of policy related to ground water conservation, most of the bore wells at the housing complexes are fully dry or are operational only during monsoon season. Thus, the bore wells are also not able to cater to the basic demand of domestic use water of the residents of Urban areas of Pune District. No steps are taken by the authorities for recharging and conservation of ground water resources.
As per the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Union of India, every Indian citizen requires 135 Liters of domestic water per day. Currently, the majority of housing complexes in the urban areas of Pune District are receiving even less than 25 liters per person through the respective local bodies, or no water at all.
Urban areas of Pune district are large residential suburbs and are also hubs of IT industry, Business, and Commercial activity. The rates of residential and commercial spaces are very expensive in urban regions of Pune district. Residents of these regions are forced to live in expensive housing, and pay high local taxes without receiving the basic amenities of water supply from local bodies and statutory authorities.
The Central Ground Water Authority (CDWA), Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India charge a registration fee of 10,000/- for each borewell, but the residents do not see any actions of groundwater conservation and recharging. There appears to be no policy to conserve and regulate the drawing of water by any of the borewells, as most of the borewells in the urban regions of Pune district are dry and are functional only during the monsoon season.
The private water tanker suppliers are also operating in an unregulated manner and draw water from various sources such as local bodies, lakes, rivers, wells, and borewells. Such an unregulated attack on the surface and ground water resources is proving to be detrimental to the ground water capacity of the Urban areas of the Pune District. As a result, the majority of the borewells at the Housing Complex locations have turned dry.
There is a non-inclusion of ground water as a source of water in the urban policy-making & legislation. The focus is only on surface water. As a result, there is unregulated, uncontrolled extraction by building contractors, private water tanker operators running parallel water distribution systems. Other water bodies, sources apart from the dams, are being ignored and no development and conservation of these sources such as lakes, rivers are being done in the urban areas of Pune district.
Just as the basic food grains are being supplied through a public distribution system, then the necessity of domestic use water be also regulated and supplied through regulated channels and managed by the local authorities.
There appears to be no water audit conducted by an independent agency by the local bodies in context to urban regions of Pune district to ascertain actual supply and losses due to various reasons.
Satya Muley – Advocate – Bombay High Court – Speaking on behalf of the Petitioners “Pune district has four dams in the district itself, Khadakwasla, Panshet, Temghar and Varasgaon. All the dams have been filled due to monsoon rains for all the past 5 years and thus the water scarcity in the urban areas of Pune District is an artificial scarcity. In any organized society, the right to live as a human being is not ensured by meeting only the animal needs of man. It is secured only when he is assured of all facilities to develop himself and is freed from restrictions that inhibit his growth. All human rights are designed to achieve this object. Right to live guaranteed in any civilized society implies the right to food, water, decent environment, education, medical care, and shelter. These are basic human and fundamental rights known to any civilized society. Water is Life! It is a pity that residents of urban areas of Pune district are forced to approach the judiciary for such a basic need” “One of the key prayers in the PIL is to seek directions from the Hon’ble High Court against the local authorities to supply 135 lphd through their pipelines or any other alternative method on an immediate basis as it is their fundamental duty under the constitution of India.”
“Wagholi is the worst affected area as far as Water is concerned. Exploited by the unregulated tanker mafia and squeezed by the system. Wagholi Grampanchayat in the pre-PMC era had only 25 lacs liter of water to supply in Wagholi with a population of over 2 lacs.
Despite knowing all this, the system never supported citizens. Sanctions and completions to housing projects continued without having a check on the proper water sourcing by builders. If the system itself is handicapped, where should the common people go?” –
Mr. Nitin Kumar Jain, Director of Wagholi Housing Societies Association
Akhil Bhartiya Grahak Panchayat has participated in this PIL because number of builders have given water affidavits and PMC, PCMC and PMRDA has given permission for construction of flats, or multistory buildings but actually non of the builder can provide water on his own as he can not take work of construction of dams. “Builders can not do infrastructure development for water pipelines from dams as well without permission and cooperation of these bodies as the land belongs to govt or private people between dams to projects.
All these bodies are taking huge amounts on the name of development charges but actually, they are not providing the basic need of water lines with water. They should not have given permission for new construction without suitable infrastructure.
The consumers have been forced to take water tankers and lakhs of rupees have to be spent on them for taking water tankers. The city based infrastructure development should have been shifted to Village based infrastructure development for new jobs.
As the industrial belts have been developed in and around the city the problems of the city have increased. After some 5 to 10 years there will be war on the water among people. There should be a permanent solution for water provision. No permission for new construction has to be given for multi-story buildings in the city. Even in the name of development, only buildings have been constructed but for energy, water, and waste management no infrastructure has been developed.”-
Mr.Vijay Ganapati Sagar ,Sanghatak of Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat
From Asia’s richest municipal corporation and most sought-after destination to poorest in providing basic services, PCMC’s journey is most uncalled for.
“PCMC with declared water losses of 40%+ is the most shameful condition for any citizen to face despite having a maximum allocation of water quota residents are supplied with alternative day water.” – Mr. Dattatray Deshmukh from PCMC housing societies federation.
“We are facing an acute shortage of water supply from the PMC and have to pay a fortune for buying water from private water tankers.We fear to imagine what will happen when Maharashtra faces a drought ? Water bodies like Pashan lake,Ramnadi and Devnadi are encroached and polluted. There is no contingency planning by government authorities” – Rajendra Chuttar, President, Baner Pashan Link Road Welfare Trust.
“While a number of approvals granted for construction of high rise buildings in Balewadi & Pune Municipal Corporation failed to discharge constitutional duties to provide water.
Today more than 1.5 cr is spent per month on tankers by Balewadi societies and hence Balewadi residents societies welfare Federation has to join for filing Public interest litigation before Bombay High Court” – Mr Ramesh Rokade, Chairman, Balewadi Welfare Federation.
“The stark reality about mismanagement of supply and demand by PMC hits hard especially now. When dams have had sufficient rainfall, one sees an increase of water tankers on the roads. When Pune was facing a near drought situation, not many tankers were seen. Question is …. if PMC can load tankers at a cost to the end user, why not supply directly to the end user through pipelines as water is billed through property tax bill?”- Qaneez Sukhrani. Convenor Association of Nagar Road Citizens Forum.
“Hinjewadi Maan IT Park is the largest IT Park in Maharashtra contributing crores in tax revenue to the state and nation, ironically this area suffers from severe lack of basic necessities, there is a lack of piped water supply to societies in the region forcing societies to collectively spend multiple of crores annually on buying water from water tankers”- Dyanendra Hulsure President Hinjawadi Employees & Residents Trust.