After agitations and dharnas for their basic right to water, the people of Manmad were relieved when the administration released 4.5 mcft water from Palkhed dam for them and that too, five days before the schedule. However, this relief turned into anxiety as the released water did not reach the Waghdardi dam in Manmad on the expected date. While on its course, the water was robbed by farmers who pumped it illegally from the canal.
People in Manmad have been waiting by taps for water supply for the last two months. Meanwhile, water is being provided through tankers at the railway junction town. After many agitations, strikes and dharnas by the people, the administration decided to release water from the Palkhed dam for Manmad on March 5, five days earlier than scheduled. The released 4.5 mcft water from Palkhed dam in Dindori tehsil was to travel 78kms to Patode tank from where it was to be lifted to Waghdardi dam and then to the people of Manmad.
However, farmers illegally lifted the water through pumps and filled tanks for their crop. The theft of lakhs of litres of water lowered the flow in the canal and their storage in Patode tank. As such, the water level in Patode tank was not enough for the pumps to lift it to Waghdardi dam.
“We can understand losses due to percolation in Patode tank as it is comparatively new and the lowered capacity of the Waghdardi dam due to silting. Losses due to evaporation are also considered but those due to theft are now beyond the patience of the people in Manmad,” stated Rajendra Pagare, president, municipal council, Manmad.
As the water failed to reach people, Pagar, officials and residents of the town staged an agitation at the district collectorate and urged him to urgently stop the water thefts. “The irrigation, administration and police departments were all aware of the situation and the water release. They were also told to ensure that no thefts occurred (while the water was on its way) but callous attitude by all has made the people of Manmad lose their patience,” Pagare stated.
The irrigation department claims that the thefts took place, in spite of precautions. “We had conducted meetings in the villages, along the canal, prior to releasing water from Plakhed dam.
However, it was at midnight that the water was illegally lifted, hence causing losses. We have held meetings with the dy collector, the in charge of the region, police and now we are taking action by registering an offence against the thefts. The pumps, motors pipes, tankers have been confiscated. The water supply to Patode tank, which was interrupted on Thursday morning, has been restored by Friday. The outlet of the tank is now functional and will fill up the Waghdardi dam,” stated Ankush Desai, chief engineer, Palkhed dam.