Maharashtra water crisis: Section 144 imposed in Ahmednagar district

The district becomes the third in the State after Latur and Parbhani districts (in parched Marathwada) to impose the punitive section.

April 22, 2016 03:26 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 05:12 am IST - Pune

With each passing day exacerbating Maharashtra’s already fraught water situation, the Ahmednagar district administration has decided to clamp the prohibitory Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) around the Kukadi canal project.

With this, the district becomes the third in the State after Latur and Parbhani districts (in parched Marathwada) to impose the punitive section to preclude a possible law and order situation. The section prohibits an assembly of more than five persons around a water body.

Both cities of Pune and Ahmednagar draw water from this project. Rising complaints of water being diverted for irrigation has compelled authorities to take the extreme measure in a bid to ensure that waters were being released for strictly potable purposes.

“With the steadily depleting ground water table and reserve stocks in the district’s dams barely 50 per cent, we are releasing water for drinking purposes only. The section has been imposed till May 5, till the process of releasing the water is completed,” said Ahmednagar District Collector Anil Kawade, informing that 2.3 TMCft water would be released.

With a full month to go before the pre-monsoon showers, nearly 700 tankers are presently in operation, and the numbers are expected to further rise, said authorities.

Meanwhile, the water storage levels in Pune’s four major dams supplying potable water to the city have plummeted to a perilous 5.7 TMCft, barely 19 per cent of the total water stock.

Unperturbed by soaring mercury levels hovering at 40 degrees Celsius, Irrigation Department continued to maintain that the city could pull with this stock till July with the current water cuts in place.

Since September last year, the city itself has been receiving potable water only on alternate days.

With rising temperatures and rapid evaporation, the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation too has decided to introduce a similar cut. Announcing the cut, the PCMC commissioner said that though the township’s chief water source, the Pavana river generally does not face depletion, it barely has enough water to sustain its citizens till June.

The rapid depletion of groundwater levels has given rise to another systemic problem: the fear of an outbreak of communicable diseases. With more than 2000 tankers supplying water to 1650 villages in Maharashtra, fears of water-borne diseases are bedeviling the State Health Department owing to the contaminated or poor quality of tanker water being supplied to rural areas. Authorities have reported around 20 outbreaks of water-borne diseases since January this year.

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