Rising Mutha sparks water-cut rollback demand

10,000 Cusecs Released From Nearly Full Khadakwasla
There is a fight brewing over water discharge from Khadakwasla reservoir into the Mutha river.Political leaders from the opposition parties, seeking relief from the alternate day supply for the city which has been making do with less water for several months now, want the water to be utilized for the city and the cuts imposed some months ago lifted.

Civic elections are due early next year and any curtailing of basic amenities will reflect poorly on the corporators. “If there is extra water and it is being discharged, citizens should get it according to the quota.The administration should go back to the old system and provide water twice a day ,“ Arvind Shinde, leader of the opposition in PMC, said.

“Citizens have been accommodative of water cuts for almost a year. Now that there is adequate water in the dams, the civic body should withdraw the water cut decision,“ Shiv Sena corporator Prithviraj Sutar said.

But the civic body is firm about keeping the curbs, at least for some time. “The four dams, which provide water to the city , should be full. Only then will we withdraw the water cuts imposed,“ mayor Prashant Jagtap told TOI. Jagtap said the civic body will have to think about long-term management of water.

Good rainfall in the last week and for two days of this week prompted the irrigation department to release water from the Khadakwasla reservoir into the Mutha river. Water was discharged at 2,080 cusec (cubic feet per second) on Tuesday morning, which was increased to 4,260 cusec by the afternoon and was increased to 6,000 cusec in the evening. The discharge was likely to increase to 10,000 cusec by Tuesday night as heavy rainfall in the catchment areas continued.

An irrigation department official said water was released due to an increase in the volume after heavy showers on Monday night and Tuesday morning. The dam had filled to 92% of its capacity by 9.30am.Last year, there was no such release because of deficient rainfall.

“ A decision about increa “A decision about increasing or decreasing the discharge volume will depend on the rainfall. Water will be released at least for a day on Tuesday into the river and not into the Mutha canal,“ P B Shelar, executive engineer of Khadakwasla division, told TOI.

According to irrigation officials, the release of water is necessary for the safety of the dam and for flood routing.

“We release water at an average of around 9,000 to 10,000 cusec. If there is any damage to the dam because of holding the water in the reservoir, then water will flow at over 1.5 lakh cusec speed. It will pose a major threat,“ Atul Kapole, superintending engineer, irrigation department, said.

Flood routing or management of excess water which can cause havoc can be done if there is timely discharge of water. Sudden and heavy discharge can damage property and threaten lives along the banks.

According to Kapole, water release at around 20,000 cusec will not affect core city areas much, but caution is advisable for citizens and the civic body when the water reaches 15,000 cusec.

Warnings have been issued to citizens residing near the river’s banks and information about the discharge was shared with Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

The city has had water cuts since September 2015 after the monsoon failed last year. Citizens get water supply twice a day when supply is not rationed, but since water cuts were introduced, water is provided once in two days.

Activists too felt the city should get its share. “Pune’s water will be given to Ujani, but citizens will have to live with water cuts. It is injustice.The administration had given continuous water supply during the Eid and palkhi. The same system should be introduced till the time excess water is being discharged into the river,“ Vivek Velankar, founder of Sajag Nagrik Manch, a citizens’ group, said.

Source : TOI13_07_2016_002_015_011