The water crisis in the city has become a hot political issue these days, as a 20 per cent water cut is still on because of insufficient rainfall. Faced with Opposition demands for a long-term resolution of the problem, the Standing Committee of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) yesterday strongly objected to the provision of just 11.5 TMC of water per day for the city and sought between 16 and 19 TMC from the Irrigation Department.
After the expiry in 2010 of the contract between the PMC and the Irrigation Department that provided for 11.5 TMC of water, the same quota was sought for the city by Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak in the new, yet-to-be-signed contract.
The draft of the motion was opposed by members of all Opposition parties in the meeting. Instead, there was support from 10 members of the committee for a new draft of the motion, demanding more water at the same rate. Among the supporters were Arvind Shinde (Congress), M P Ghate (BJP), Ashok Harnawal (Shiv Sena) and Neelam Kulkarni (MNS).
Parties against cuts
Political parties were quick to jump on the issue and highlight what they were doing to address the problem. “I have stopped the Municipal Commissioner before the signing of the new contract letter with the Irrigation Department,” BJP city president Vikas Mathkari said.
“The revised demand is for 16 to 19 TMC of water. We are firm on getting additional water at the same rate. The earlier contract of 11.5 TMC water expired in 2010 and the new contract should seek more water as the population of the city is growing enormously.”
Congress leader Arvind Shinde said his party was against water cuts, even if it meant stalling construction activity. “My party will not allow or support any kind of water cut,” Shinde said. “The PMC administration should not allow new constructions in the city if there is a grave scarcity of water. It is absurd to get 20 fringe villages within the PMC limits while the city gets inadequate supply of water.”
Leader of the Opposition Vasant More of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) warned for an agitation to get more water, said, “We are opposing (just) 11.5 TMC of water from the beginning,” More said. “Drinking water supply for citizens should always be the top priority.” A similar stand was taken by Shiv Sena leader Ashok Harnawal.
Leader of the House Subhash Jagtap, who is from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), was the only one to support the continuation of 11.5 TMC of water, which will be coming from the Khadakwasala dam.