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Water level in dams plummet, Pune braces for drought

Grim reminder: The marker shows the low level of water at Khadakwasla dam in Pune on Tuesday.

Grim reminder: The marker shows the low level of water at Khadakwasla dam in Pune on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangements

City requires 3 tmc water in the next two months, officials fear a full-blown crisis before monsoon brings relief

With the effects of drought beginning to tell on cities in western Maharashtra, the State irrigation department has decided to stall the release of water from Khadakwasla dam to meet Pune’s potable water demands.

With the cumulative water stocks in the four major dams constituting the city’s potable water lifeline — Khadakwasla, Panshet, Varasgaon and Temghar – down to an alarming 4.75 tmc (thousand million cubic feet), the department is left with no choice but to stop water for crops and irrigation in the district’s outlying areas.

Water from Khadakwasla is usually released in two rotations for the summer crops in the outlying areas of Pune district like Daund and Indapur.

This was always a bone of contention between the irrigation department and Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) authorities, with the latter catering to the needs of a city heaving under a population in excess of 40 lakh citizens.

The department has been exhorting the civic body to cut down its water usage. Irrigation authorities claim that the city has been consuming water in excess of its stipulated quota of 1150 mld (millions of litres per day) for the past two months.

The city would require at least 3 tmc water over the next two months, say officials who fear a full-blown crisis well before monsoon brings relief.

The fall in the dam water storage levels has worried officials as the cumulative stock of the four dams — with a total capacity of 29 tmc — stood at 6.62 tmc a week ago, with stock in Temghar dam down to zero% while Khadakwasla has 26% of its total capacity.

“In contrast with the present collective stock of 4.7 tmc, last year’s stock was 7.73 tmc. Ever-increasing temperatures are quickening the rate of evaporation, thus depleting reserve stocks at an alarming pace,” said a PMC official.

Things are expected to get worse with the Met department forecasting high temperatures after May 17.

Likewise, with reserve stocks in the Pavana dam — the lifeline of Pimpri-Chinchwad — rapidly depleting, citizens are demanding that civic authorities shut down swimming pools to conserve scarce potable water resources.

The drought continues to play havoc in the arid Marathwada and Vidarbha regions, where acute water scarcity has turned stretches in districts like Parbhani, Washim and Buldhana into wastelands.

The Godavari river bed is running dry in Parbhani and Aurangabad districts. In Buldhana, the intensity of the drought has compelled farmers in several taluks to sell off their livestock.

In stark contrast to comforts of Pune’s plush urban pockets, the average potable supply in a Marathwada village is once every week, say locals and activists.

In Washim, the collective stocks in 134 small and medium water projects stood at a robust 83% in October last year. Yet today, it has declined to a mere 7% of the total capacity, said officials.

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Printable version | Jul 9, 2020 10:03:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/water-level-in-dams-plummet-pune-braces-for-drought/article27130691.ece

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