Water Scarcity Grips Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad as Reservoir Levels Drop

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Reported By Varad Bhatkhande

Pune, 31st May 2024: Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad, two major cities in Maharashtra, are facing significant water scarcity issues as the summer heat intensifies and water levels in key reservoirs decline. Both cities rely on a combination of surface water from dams and groundwater from borewells to meet the increasing demand for drinking water, especially during the dry season.

PMC Battles Water Scarcity Crisis

In Pune, the diminishing water storage in the Khadakwasla dam chain project, a vital water source for the city, has resulted in unannounced water shortages affecting residents across various neighbourhoods. The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is responsible for managing water distribution in the city. However, private tanker operators are accused of exploiting the situation by obtaining water easily from PMC water centres and selling it at inflated prices to large housing complexes and other consumers. Despite PMC’s efforts to mitigate the crisis, including providing free tanker services to areas facing acute water scarcity, the situation persists due to a combination of factors such as water mismanagement and illegal water extraction.

Prasanna Joshi, superintending engineer of PMC’s Water Supply Department, shed light on the issue by stating, “Water is supplied to tankers through Challan or Pass from PMC’s Water Centres. After the demand from the societies, the private tankers take water through borewells and wells. There is no burden on the water centres of the PMC.”

PCMC Battles Increasing Water Demand

Similarly, in Pimpri Chinchwad, rapid urbanization and population growth have strained the existing water supply infrastructure, leading to long-standing water shortages in many parts of the city. The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) draws water primarily from the Pavana Dam to meet the city’s water requirements. However, the current supply is insufficient to meet the burgeoning demand, forcing housing societies and residents to rely heavily on private tanker services.

Despite PCMC’s acknowledgement of the problem, the corporation claims limited control over private tanker operators who draw water from private wells and boreholes, exacerbating the water scarcity situation. PCMC’s Water Supply Department Chief Engineer Shrikant Sawane explained, “Water is supplied by tankers only in case of disruption of water supply. The corporation has eight tankers. As more water is needed, private housing societies get water through tankers. Tankers draw water from wells and borewells. PCMC cannot control what business one should do and at what rate.”

Shared Struggle: Water Crisis in Twin Cities

– Both Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad face water scarcity issues stemming from decreasing water storage in dams and increasing demand for drinking water.
– Private tanker operators play a significant role in bridging the gap between water supply and demand in both cities, albeit with accusations of exploitation and profiteering.
– Housing societies and residents in both areas bear the brunt of water scarcity, experiencing increased costs and inconvenience due to reliance on private tanker services.
– Allegations of collusion between politicians and the tanker lobby have surfaced in both Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad, raising questions about transparency and accountability in water management practices.

Unified Solutions for Water Crisis

Efforts to address the water scarcity crisis include initiatives such as providing free tanker services and implementing water conservation measures in both Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad. However, challenges persist, including water theft, inadequate infrastructure, and regulatory loopholes that enable private tanker operators to operate unchecked. Additionally, the lack of a coordinated strategy for sustainable water management and distribution worsens the problem, necessitating urgent intervention from PMC and PCMC authorities and the Maharashtra State Government.