Leaky bund punches holes in drought management claims

Jun 02, 2012, 06:40 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

Constructed in 2002-03, the Kalshetipada bund should have ended the water woes of about 25 neighbouring villages, but with no maintenance, it's spilling thousands of gallons every day

That assurances and assertions of authorities regarding steps taken to mitigate the perennial problem of water scarcity in the state are full of holes become apparent after one look at the Kalshetipada bund. Constructed in 2002-2003 to provide water to surrounding areas, the dam has not fulfilled its purpose. The structure has developed leaks at several places, making this a waste of a project.

Creaked up: The water that is wasted through leakages in the Kalshetipada bund flows through smaller bunds and then gets accumulated in the fields. Villagers use this dirty water for bathing, washing and drinking. PIC/ Shadab Khan

Kalshetipada village is located approximately 30 kilometres from Dolara village, and about 130 kilometres from Mumbai. The bund in question, as per official records, was constructed in 2002-2003 on 150 hectares of land and was meant to store 2,128.63 cubic metres of water, which should have eased the scarcity being faced by 20 to 25 nearby villages.

Chinks in the armour
MiD DAY, along with social activist and director of Jawhar’s Urban Co-operative Bank Ravindra Shivade, visited the bund and found that hundreds of cubic metres of water were being wasted daily due to the leakages. “The condition of the bund clearly shows that no repairs have been carried out for years. The water that is wasted through leakages flows through smaller bunds and then gets accumulated in the fields. Villagers use this dirty water for bathing, washing and even drinking. This is a waste of public money,” said Shivade.

When MiD DAY visited the place on Tuesday afternoon, there was no government worker at the spot. Moreover, the machine room, from where the gate of the bund is opened to release water, had a rusty lock on it, which had not been opened for months. Only a few cubic metres of water was stored in the catchments part of the bund.

Bitter harvest
When we asked HP Konde of nearby Saturli village the reason for not utilising the water for farming, he stated that the wasted water from the bund gets collected in two or three small pockets and the remaining stretch of farmland remains dry. Hence, no cultivation can be done. “The biggest problem is that various government departments like water, irrigation, public works and tribal welfare have their presence in these rural areas, but unfortunately there is no coordination or understanding between them. They all work independently. Moreover, there have to be regular checks and repairs of these bunds, but nothing happens at the ground level. I have been told that there is no separate provision for maintenance of smaller bunds,” Vasai MLA and chief of Shramjivi Sanghatana Vivek Pandit said.

Root of the problem
Citing an example, Pandit said, on Wednesday he visited Kastewadi village in Jawhar taluka, where a new bund was being constructed. He was shocked to find that there was no supervisory authority, including the contractor, to monitor the work. Also, the bund was being constructed without laying any foundation for it.

“This is clearly a shoddy job. I have details of the contractor and will bring the matter before the appropriate authority for action,” he said.
Speaking to MiD DAY, state tribal development minister Rajendra Gavit said, “Bunds constructed need to be maintained and repaired properly at regular intervals. If this has not been happening, the water, which needs to be stored for the period when there’s no monsoon, will be wasted. This shows that there is lack of synchronisation between various agencies operating in the rural areas and everything needs to be streamlined, taking appropriate action against those officials who have failed to deliver.”    

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