Parched Kharghar villages get no relief

Mumbai: 2 May, 2019 (Hindustan Times )

Residents of villages on node’s periphery suffer as natural water bodies dry up like every year; activists blame urbanisation

NAVI MUMBAI: Kharghar, one of the most developed nodes under the Panvel City Municipal Corporation (PCMC), is reeling under water crisis . The node, which has 3 lakh population, gets 63 million litres of water daily (mld) from the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) against the requirement of 70 million litres.

HT PHOTOA resident of Owe camp draws water from a local well. The women from the village travel every day to a nearby pond to wash clothes and utensils.

While those living in the urban areas are coping with the shortage by relying on water tankers, the residents of villages and padas on the node’s outskirts have been hit the most. The locals mostly rely on natural water bodies such as lakes, ponds and wells — most of which have no water or on the verge of drying up. 

The villagers alleged bureaucratic apathy in resolving water woes despite them living within a radius of less than 3-km from Kharghar.

Dhamole, Gholwadi, Hedorawadi and Chafewadi are some of the clusters that rely on natural water bodies for their daily water needs as Cidco is yet to provide them water through a pipeline.

“The Kharghar node has been developing rapidly. Several residential projects have been announced and they all need water. Soon, the node will need 100 mld. Looking by the current scenario, I don’t think Cidco can handle it,” said Ravi Srivastava, an activist from Kharghar. 

Keshav Varkhedkar, chief engineer Cidco said, they are working on a solution to draw water from Hetwane and other dams to meet the growing water requirement.

“Water connections to the villages and padas on the outskirts will be given this year,” he said. TRAVELLING FAR TO FILL WATER Most villages and padas facing water crisis have a population of a few thousands. The women from these areas spend more than three hours daily to fill drinking water. 

Sheetal Bhoje, 34, a resident of Owe camp in Kharghar, said, “Though we get water from Cidco, the supply is negligible. We somehow fill drinking water. But for other water-related chores such as washing clothes and utensils, we have to walk at least half-a-kilometre to reach the nearest pond.”

Chandra Patel, 40, a resident of Dhamole, said despite being part of such a well-developed node, they have no access to basic civic amenities.

“Summer is the worst time for us as natural water bodies dry up. The developing body has made no effort to resolve our problem,” said Patel. 

Most villagers gave their lands to Cidco for various infrastructure projects and had hoped for a better life. Although property rates in the node have escalated and paved way for more development, the villages still lack basic amenities. 

“We never faced water crisis until development took over the node. Even in summers, local ponds and lakes had enough water to take care of our daily needs. As time passed and buildings came up, natural water bodies dried faster,” said Ganesh Dtate, 59, an Owe resident.

Environmentalists from Kharghar blamed the water woes on rapid urbanisation at the cost of green cover. 30-HOUR WATER CUT IN KALYAN AND THANE Since the onset of summer, Kalyan and Thane have been facing a 30-hour water cut every week. This is being done to ensure the water stock lasts until monsoon. 

“Since April, water cut has been imposed in our area on Tuesdays. So we have to store water on Mondays,” said Jyoti Choudhury, 40, a resident of Khadakpada in Kalyan (west). 

In Thane, areas such as Kalwa, Mumbra and Ghodbunder Road face maximum water cuts. “In some areas the water cut is imposed on Wednesday while in others it’s on Friday,” said Anita Shinde, 37, a resident of Ghodbunder Road.