The city is teetering on the edge of a severe water crisis and the civic body still has no clear-cut strategy regarding how it is going to alleviate the water woes looming on your head, except by slapping water cuts
Three days after Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar cautioned the city to brace for water cuts — what with almost all of June having gone by without rains —Municipal Commissioner Vikas Deshmukh yesterday called a joint meeting of the water and irrigation departments to chalk out plans for careful use of the water remaining in storage.
Down to the last drops: Varasgaon dam has run out of its reserve. Pic/Mohan Patil
But beyond imposing cuts and watching out for water thieves, the civic body hasn’t really made any arrangements to source additional volumes for the city. Moreover, though slashes in water supply seem inevitable at this moment, the civic chief did not utter a word on the subject, saying that the final decision would be announced today, in a meeting of all party leaders called by Mayor Chanchala Kodre.
“Right now the live storage in dams is just 1.96 TMC (thousand million cubic feet of water), and if we consider evaporation losses it would be around 1.8 TMC. It will last till July-end,” Deshmukh said. Last year, on this date, the collective water storage in all the four dams supplying to the city — Khadakwasla, Panshet, Varasgaon and Temghar - was 5.13 TMC. Currently, Varasgaon and Temghar have no live storage, and the other two dams hold about 1.96 TMC.
Asked why he had still not implemented water cuts if the situation is so severe, Deshmukh replied, “We are not wasting time. Even the deputy chief minister had set a deadline of June 25. We have conducted the meeting today (Wednesday), and tomorrow the mayor will make an announcement in this regard.”
In the meeting yesterday, the commissioner told the water department to check each and every incident of wastage.
“I have asked the water department to appoint additional staff to keep vigil on construction sites in the city, and check if they are illegally using water connections. All such sites will be slapped with stop-work notices. The department will also act against illegal water connections,” Deshmukh said.
4 hours a day?
Though the commissioner prefers to wait for another day to announce the extent of water cuts the city has to face in the face of a dry spell, sources say in the water department say it would be 10 per cent.
Head of the civic water supply department, V G Kulkarni said, “Currently nearly 30-32 wards, in areas like Kothrud and the peths receive water twice a day. If cuts are implemented, the whole city would receive supply once a day for four hours. The final decision is still awaited.”
The PMC has issued instructions to city’s parks, gardens and commercial establishments related to washing work, asking them to minimise water usage.
Available water in Khadkwasla and Panshet dams. The remaining two dams — Varasgaon and Temghar —have zero live storage
A grave water scarcity is not new for the city. In the years 2012, 2010 and 2009, Pune suffered a similar situation due to delayed rains.
In fact, in 2012, the PMC framed a policy on digging additional bores in various wards and even supplying water through wagons. But at that time, the city received a good rainfall in July-August, and all the plans remained on paper.
But this time, except for the proposed water cuts, neither the PMC chief nor its water supply department is ready with any alternate plan to meet the city’s water demands if July also goes dry.