Frequent water cuts have started at Shankarnagar area in Nashik city. Rajendra Jadhav a resident of that area says, “A week ago, the taps ran twice a day for two hours each now it’s just once a day. About 15 kilometres away in Niphad taluk, grape grower Vasudeo Kathe’s orchard stands the risk of being ruined because of water shortage.
These areas receive water from the Gangapur dam, located about 10 kilometres from the Nashik city. In a case of warped priorities, Maharastra released water for the ‘shahi snan’ (royal bath) at the recently-concluded Kumbh Mela in Nashik.
The government’s move was criticized by Bombay High Court, questioning the releasing of water for facilitating holy dips in the Godavari, when the whole State is battling with drought.
Last week the High Court directed the chief secretary to examine the legalities of the decision, which went against the State’s own water policy, under which the first priority is given to drinking, domestic use and sanitation.
A Division Bench of Justices A.S. Oka and V.L. Achliya, in an order dated September 22, responding to a PIL filed by Prof. HM Desarda, observed, “The State government was insensitive to the needs of common people in drought-affected areas of the State, who have to travel long distance every day to fetch drinking water…What is shocking is for washing away the dirt created in the river by ‘holy bath’, substantial quantity of water will have to be released from the Gangapur dam.”
In another order earlier, the Bench asked the government to adopt “a sensitive and scientific approach for saving water” and “revisit the entire issue in light of they fact that the water, which will satisfy the basic need of lakhs of citizens is being diverted for ‘shahi snan’.”
The holy baths at Nashik Kumbh took place on three days – August 29, September 13 and 18. Of the total quantity of 4.5 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of water reserved for Nashik city for 2015-2016, 5.15 per cent or 0.232 TMC was released for the three days of holy dips.
Nashik Collector Deependra Singh Kushwah told The Hindu, “Godavari is not a perennial river. If lakhs of people come on their own, it is the State’s responsibility to provide them water for bathing.”
Mr. Kushwah stressed, “The policy also says water can be used for ‘other purposes’. Moreover, the water that was released has not been wasted. It will go to the lower Godavari basin. The actual amount of water released was much less that what was sanctioned. In fact, the High Court itself had previously ordered that clean water should be provided to the devotees.”
Particulars apart, it was the flawed thinking on the government’s part that drew court’s ire. The criticism was also timely, as last Friday, the government declared drought in 14,708 villages, nearly 34 per of the State.
Mahant Dharamdasji from the Shri Nirvani Ani Akhara, one of the participants in the Kumbh, told The Hindu, “Let’s see what happens in future. The government has to provide water for the bath. It is our ‘dharmik parampara’ [religious tradition]. God will fill up the river with twice the amount of water.”
Src : thehindu.com (Image src)
Last Updated On: November 12, 2015