Jalna: Lack of planning to conserve water, apathy by the government towards people and rampant black-marketing of water is what plagues Jalna, one of the worst drought-affected districts in Maharashtra since 1972.
"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.
Formerly a part of Nizam state as a tehsil of Aurangabad district, Jalna district was formed on May 1, 1982.
The boundaries of Jalna district are adjacent to Parbhani and Buldhana on east, Aurangabad on west, Jalgaon on north and Beed on south. It is the premier commercial centre of the Marathwada region.
Incidentally, Cong-NCP came to power in Jalna municipality about a year back, till when it was ruled by the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance.
Three major lakes (Ghanewadi, Moti and Mukteshwar), which were sufficient to provide water to the city have dried up, Baig said.
"Till last year there was water in Ghanewadi lake, spread in the area of over 600 acres. Now, it has dried up. Neither the municipality nor the government cleaned the lake," he alleged.
During the Nizam rule, water use to be transported to Hyderabad from the Ghanewadi lake, but due to deficient rainfall and apathy of the local administration it has dried up, he added.
Meanwhile, Jalna District Collector Shyam Deshpande said that the government will undertake the cleaning work of the Ghanewadi lake on March 11-12 and would see to it that to some extent water woes are resolved.
A central team would come to Jalna later this week to assess the drought situation and take steps accordingly, Deshpande said.
On the new pipeline which will be connected to Jalna from the Jaikwadi dam in Ahmednagar district next month, Baig said there was no need of the new pipeline, as it would result in increasing the electricity bills.
"Jalna municipality does not have a source of income generation to pay bills of MSEB. There is a doubt as to how long this new pipeline will remain operational. If the three lakes are cleaned properly, it will be sufficient for the people in Jalna," Baig said.
"Shiv Sena-BJP was in power in the Jalna municipality for 15 years. They never paid attention to solve the issues of people. Now the Congress-NCP has taken over, people are expecting that the cleaning work be expedited," he alleged.
Also, black-marketing of water is on rise in the city, as those having wells and borewells are indulging in the malpractice, he alleged.
"People have to pay Rs 300 for 1,000 litres of water. How can a poor labourer afford so much money?" Baig said.
The higher and technical education minister and guardian minister of Jalna, Rajesh Tope, had directed that 60 tankers should be put into service to provide water in 54 wards of the city, but only 23 tankers are functional, he said.
The District Collector claimed that 214 water tankers were functional in the Jalna district.