A 200-year-old well in Dahisar, which, till recent times, had quenched the thirst of the locals, today stands covered with filth and rubbish resembling a giant garbage bin, thanks to the apathy of civic authorities and sheer neglect of citizens. The once majestic well, over 80 feet in diameter, has gained greater significance this year, due to low rainfall this year, and subsequent water cuts across many areas in the city, including Dahisar.
Plastic bottles, discarded wafer packets and other garbage covers the surface of the 200-year-old well. Pic/Shailesh Bhatia
Suman Mahatre, a 60-year-old housewife who has resided in the area since childhood, recalled filling water from the well and listening to stories about the well from her grandparents. “This well has existed since the British era,” said Mahatre. Manoj Paralkar, another local resident said, “Over the past 18 years, the area developed and the municipal corporation began supplying us with pipe water. As a result, we stopped depending on the well. In the last five years, the road was filled with garbage and filth. Recently, its wall collapsed and it became a safety hazard for pedestrians,” he added.
Dr Amar Joshi, a senior consulting geologist specialising in the field of groundwater exploration, conservation and environmental impact assessment of urban projects, said that wells across Mumbai are contaminated with sewage water.
Explaining how they lose potability, he said, “There is a natural presence of bacteria in groundwater, but once it is contaminated with sewage water, it starts stinking and is no longer potable. Gradually, the well becomes a dumping ground and is soon filled with rubbish, marking the end of a valuable natural resource.”
Such wells ought to be identified and, if possible, revived if the water crisis has to be solved, he added.
Local corporator, Abhishek Gosalkar, said he has written a letter to the ward office on the importance of reviving clogged wells. “The water from such sources, even if not potable, can be used for daily chores and firefighting,” he said.
When sunday mid-day contacted Assistant Commissioner, R North, Santosh Kumar Dhonde, he said he would ensure the site is inspected and take necessary steps to get the debris cleared from the well.
“All Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) wards have been instructed to submit a detailed report of wells, either on government or private properties, which can be used currently or need to be revived in case of water shortage. We have identified up to 100 such wells in Dahisar. As far as this particular well is concerned, our department doesn’t clear debris, but this is an exception as we are doing it on humanitarian grounds, for the larger good of the society,” he said.
Dhonde added that in case of water wells on private property, the higher authorities in the Municipality, would eventually formulate a plan for distribution of water to the locality.