Nashik (Maharashtra): Ramkund, the sacred bathing spot on the Godavari river here where pilgrims take a dip and perform various rituals, has gone dry for the first time in 130 years due to acute water shortage, a top official said on Thursday.
Thousands of pilgrims expected to converge here for a holy dip on Gudi Padwa on April 8 -- the first day of Chaitra month marking the beginning of the new year according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar -- would therefore be unable to do so.
"Tomorrow, (Friday) on the occasion of the auspicious Gudi Padwa, thousands of pilgrims expected to turn up at Ramkund will not be able to take the holy dip, at least till July-end," Nashik Municipal Corporation's Deputy Mayor Gurmeet Bagga told IANS.
The cemented Ramkund has now become a playground for children who play cricket and football there, Bagga said.
The civic body seems to have run out of options available to replenish the water in the holy reservoir in the river bed.
It is now toying with the idea of digging borewells on the river banks in a bid to replenish the Ramkund -- which is also the main pilgrimage centre during the Kumbh Mela held here. However, the project depends on several factors, including religious sentiments and cost.
Besides, there is no guarantee that borewells will be a solution to the problem since the groundwater table in the district has plummeted, Bagga said.
The Purohit Sangh has now appealed to the Nashik Municipal Corporation authorities to arrange water to enable the priests and the faithfuls to perform the basic religious rituals on Friday.
The priests have suggested alternative water arrangements be made from some nearby reservoir to fill the Ramkund enough to facilitate the holy dips, but authorities are yet to respond.
At present, Bagga said, the corporation was supplying around 100 litres per head per day (LPHPD) to Nashik residents as against the national norm of 130 LPHPD, and soon this will dip to around 80 LPHPD due to acute water scarcity.
"Our target is to conserve water till the third week of July when heavy rains start and continue till mid-August to replenish the water bodies," the deputy mayor said.
Meanwhile, water scarcity has severely hit trade as well as summer tourism in the district.