Borewells at Cross Maidan become latest Mumbai Metro victims

Updated: May 18, 2019, 07:42 IST | Arita Sarkar

Blaming underground construction work, coach and gardeners say they have never seen water levels dip so alarmingly in decades. The Cross Maidan in Fort, which has long been a training ground for future cricketers, is in a bad shape

Borewells at Cross Maidan become latest Mumbai Metro victims
The dry ground conditions have affected the players' game, the coach said

The Mumbai Metro doesn't seem to cease being a troublemaker for the city's several stakeholders. Young and budding cricketers are its latest victims. The Cross Maidan in Fort, which has long been a training ground for future cricketers, is in a bad shape for more than three months owing to the depleting levels of water in the borewells here. With gardeners unable to water the ground, cricket coach Vidyadhar Paradkar, who has been training players for over 40 years, blamed the ongoing Metro construction at Azad Maidan.

The gardeners at Cross Maidan are surprised at the borewells running dry for the first time ever. Pic/Ashish Raje
The gardeners at Cross Maidan are surprised at the borewells running dry for the first time ever. Pic/Ashish Raje

The Cross Maidan that is watered using the supply from its three borewells has never faced a water shortage to this extent, coach Paradkar said. However, this year, 52-year-old Mohammed Idris, who has been tending to the grounds for the past 20 years, noticed that for the borewells are only yielding a trickle of water for the last three months. "Earlier, we would switch on the pumps for all three borewells and the 1,000-litre tank would fill in seven to eight minutes. Lately, it takes nearly an hour and a half for part of the tank to fill," he said.

The gardeners at Cross Maidan are surprised at the borewells running dry for the first time ever. Pic/Ashish Raje

Idris added that since there is barely any flow, on Thursday, his fellow gardeners had to use kettles and buckets to sprinkle water on the pitches. Many cricket clubs affiliated with the Mumbai Cricket Association conduct practice sessions for teenagers here. The Karnataka Sports Association has thus employed three gardeners to water and maintain the grounds.

Like Idris, 50-year-old Deepchand Bari too has been caring for the garden for the past 14 years and pointed out that this is the first time that they have run short of water. "Even in years when monsoon arrived late, the borewells always had water. But it is only after the Metro construction started that the wells have run dry. The outer portions of the Cross Maidan are completely dry and there is a lot of dust since we're unable to water the entire ground," he said. Bari also said that the water levels are so low that they are unable to keep all three borewells functioning at the same time and can only operate one borewell at a time.

The gardeners at Cross Maidan are surprised at the borewells running dry for the first time ever. Pic/Ashish Raje

Paradkar pointed out that the quality of the eight pitches at Cross Maidan has been affected due to the acute shortage of water. "Earlier the matches would last 40 overs and the players were able to score up to 200 runs. But now, due to the lack of water, the pitches are in a poor state and players are only able to play for 20 overs and score 50-70 runs," he said. He added that due to the poor condition of the pitches, he had to temporarily cancel the practice for Saturday.

Coach writes to MMRCL

Taking up his concerns, Paradkar has written to the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) on Friday in which he has mentioned that the water supply at Cross Maidan has dropped since the Metro construction began at Azad Maidan. He asked the MMRCL to investigate the reason behind the shortage of ground water and also suggested that the Metro workers control the use of water. Despite several calls and messages, MMRCL officials were not available for comment.

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