Thane and Navi Mumbai are facing an unprecedented water crisis, with authorities slashing water supply to the area by half in order to cope. At fault are decades of water mismanagement and an unusually high dependence on monsoons, which has left the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) at risk of facing water riots.
Taps Run Dry In The MMR Region
The people living here have no choice but to live with 60-hour water cuts, while relying on private tankers to provide some relief. The lakes that act as reservoirs for the city have only about 3 months of supply left and if the monsoon that is expected in June doesn’t materialize, the situation is bound to get worse. Local authorities are already implementing various measures including digging another 150 bore-wells across the region, and even deploying police along water-distribution sites and housing societies to ensure fights do not break out.
“This is true that Thane is facing a water crisis. Water storage facilities and dams which were created for industrial purposes are supplying water to these cities. And in water-stressed years like this year, there is a conflict among industrial usage of water, drinking water and the agricultural usage of water.” says Maharashtra Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis.
The story is the same every year, with the MMR region seeing water levels falling ever lower. No modern government can depend solely on the monsoons to provide for the population. And if this continues, it will drive demand away from affordable property markets like Navi Mumbai and Thane, leaving people with no choice but to move out of Mumbai.
Is there a solution to MMR’s water crisis?
The government has slashed water supply in industrial zones to conserve water, and similar restrictions are being considered for agricultural regions as well. However, experts say these measures are not a long-term solution. “A simple analogy is that we never run out of clothes because we wash and reuse them. If we do the same with water, if we treat it, clean it and reuse it for secondary applications like washing cars, gardening and other such activities,we could reduce the current demands on our water supply by at least 60%.” claims water conservationist, Janak Daftari.
The Maharashtra government has recognized this and the chief minister has promised to take steps to correct it. “Where ever possible, we will try to reuse water from all municipal corporations. We will treat it and give that water to the industries. This way, the fresh water which is going to the industries can be replaced by treated water and once we do that more water will be available for the cities for drinking purposes. Alongside this, we are thinking of setting up desalination plants to make sea water usable.” says Devendra Fadnavis.
These are measures that will take time and effort to execute. The government should take immediate steps to start these projects so that our cities are better prepared the next time this happens.
Nikhil Narayan Sivadas, Assistant Editor, NDTV