Jalna (Maharashtra): Eight districts of the Marathwada region in Maharashtra are battling severe drought, and the situation is especially acute in the Jalna district where many claim the last time their taps had water was over five years ago.
"I got water for one day only, on the day I got my connection in 2007. After that, there has been no water in our colony. The authorities keep charging us for water tax, but I don't pay up," said MB Kolte, a former government worker.
The crisis has been further aggravated by the depleting water table with bore-wells, which individual homes depend on, going dry.
"We last got water about 2-3 years ago. We have bore-wells but they too don't have water so we buy water from tankers," said Rekha, a housewife.
Water is so precious here that storage tanks are secured under lock and key. But authorities insist the situation is still not too serious. "The situation is serious, but there is no need for so much panic. Water is available. We have identified sources of water," said District Collector Shyam Deshpande.
According to the official claim, people receive water once a month. "Each ward gets water on a rotational basis. Because of that, each ward receives water once a month," said Mr Deshpande. This claim has, however, been rejected by the water-starved people of Jalna.
Formerly a tehsil of Aurangabad, Jalna district was formed on May 1, 1982. Its boundaries are adjacent to Parbhani and Buldhana on the east, Aurangabad on the west, Jalgaon to the north and Beed on the south. It is the premier commercial centre of the Marathwada region.
The Congress-NCP combine came to power in Jalna municipality about a year back; till then it was ruled by the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance.
"The politicians, municipality and the government administration never paid attention to solve the water woes of the people. Jalna city has a pipeline system in existence since the times of Nizam rule," NCP Corporator and Jalna youth wing president Mirza Anwar Baig said.
Three major lakes (Ghanewadi, Moti and Mukteshwar), which were sufficient to provide water to the city have dried up, said Mr Baig.
The civic body is able to provide only 25 per cent of the daily needs of nearly 3 lakh residents. However, even in this acute situation, construction activities, many belonging to politicians, continue unabated.
"I have just learnt about this. After analysing the information, I will take the required action," said Mr Deshpande.
He said that a Central team would come to Jalna later this week to assess the drought situation and take necessary steps.