Several districts in Maharashtra have been dealing with water scarcity for several years and the situation keeps getting worse.
According to reports, residents of Gangodwari village in Peth Taluka, Nashik District of Maharashtra have been facing a water crisis for almost a decade, made worse by high temperatures. The locals of Gangodbari and other villages in Peth Taluka have to descend 70 feet into a well every day to get water for their basic needs, putting their lives at risk.
Gangodwari village has been dealing with severe water shortages for almost a decade. The village, which has a population of around 500 people, is inhabited solely by the ST community. Despite the central government’s promise to provide clean drinking water to all households under the ‘Har Ghar Jal’ scheme, Gangodwari has been bypassed, leaving the villagers in dire straits.
While the rest of the country is slowly moving towards achieving the goal of ‘Har Ghar Jal’, the TS community in Gangodwari is still forced to risk their lives by descending 70 feet into a well every day to get water for their basic needs.
Water crisis persists for 10 years
‘In our village, this water crisis is going on for the last 10 years almost…women put their lives in danger and enter into this well, there is always the fear of falling. They (women) at times come during the night also..’ Mohan Gawli, a Sarpunch of Gangodwari village told ANI.
Residents of Nashik’s Gangodbari village are forced to descend 70 feet into a well to collect water for their basic needs, while women from neighbouring villages have to walk 2 km to draw water from a well. The village’s wells have dried up, leaving the locals with no choice but to go somewhere down the hill to collect water.
A tribal woman said the two wells in her village have dried up, forcing her to walk 2 km downhill to fetch water. This has caused many women to injure themselves while travelling. The woman demanded the administration to provide them with water facilities urgently.
‘It has been a month, there is no water in our village. We fetch water from faraway places. A man goes down deep into a well that is almost dry and left with muddy water at the base. We demand from the government to provide us potable water,’ a villager Chhaya Shende told ANI.
Maharashtra faces severe water shortage
According to the authorities, Maharashtra is currently facing severe water shortage and the local administration has started implementing relief measures such as providing water via tanker trucks and digging wells to combat the crisis.
The collective water reserve in the Raigad dams is only 35%, leaving 35 villages and 113 settlements facing water shortages, with the number expected to rise to 1,328.
Aid measures are expected this year costing ₹7.61 crore, with the affected villages located in Karjat, Khalapur, Pen, Mahad, Poladpur and Sudhagad tehsils.
In the last decade, relief expenditures increased from ₹6.67 crore in 2012-13 to ₹9.94 crore in 2021-22.
More than 5,000 towns and 10,000 villages in Maharashtra relied solely on water supply from tanker trucks. More than half of the tankers were deployed in Marathwada with Aurangabad and Beed being the hardest-hit districts.
In northern Maharashtra, Ahmednagar and Nashik received 822 and 358tankers respectively. Solapur, in western Maharashtra, had the highest number of affected villages and hamlets. The water shortage has also affected livestock, with more than 10 lakh animals being kept in cattle camps for water and fodder.
Maharashtra facing groundwater depletion crisis
The Groundwater Research and Development Agency (GSDA) conducts quarterly surveys of the 32,769 wells in Maharashtra to plan water use measures. The GSDA report indicated a downward trend in groundwater reserves at 1,427 wells, dropping between 2 and 3 meters, in talukas with below-average rainfall.
The latest survey found that 279 of the state’s 353 talukas have experienced depletion in groundwater levels, with Marathwada and northern Maharashtra among the worst affected areas. The report also highlights uncontrolled water withdrawal and damage to groundwater aquifers, with 2,642 villages experiencing groundwater levels more than 3 meters below the five-year average.
The situation puts the state’s harvest at risk, as food production in the rain shadow belts also depends on groundwater use. Officials blame the lack of implementation of the Maharashtra Groundwater (Development and Management) Act, which was enacted to regulate abstraction.
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