Peeved at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation drawing water from reservoirs in their area, the scarcity-hit villages from Shahapur in neighbouring Thane district on Tuesday threatened to stop the water supply to Mumbai if government fails to ensure adequate water for them.
Around 300 people, led by local Bharatiya Janata Party leader Santosh Shinde, who had embarked on the ‘Jaldindi Padyatra’ on March 14 to register their protest against the BMC, on Tuesday reached Mumbai after covering the distance of around 75 km and met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Submitting their 10-point demands to CM, the group, including women, requested him that they be adopted by the BMC so that entire Shahapur taluka will become tanker-free.
“Through this padyatra, we demand adequate water provision for us too, otherwise, we will have no choice but to stop the supply of water which is being diverted to Mumbaikars from our soil,” Shinde said while addressing the gathering at Azad Maidan in South Mumbai.
He said they have submitted their demands to Fadnavis and are hopeful that their problems will get resolved soon.
The outskirts of Shahapur tehsil have four reservoirs of Bhatsa, Tansa, Modak Sagar and the Middle Vaitarna which supply 2,960 million litres of water to Mumbai every day through pipelines.
Shinde also added that they are not opposing the water supply to Mumbaikars per se.
“We are only highlighting our problems by asking that when there is water around us, why we are dying thirsty...We have nothing to drink...We have to walk kilometres to fetch a bucket of water,” he said.
Shravan Telam, a resident of Kasara who reached Mumbai after walking 95 km in blazing sun, said the water which is supplied to Mumbaikars for a day will suffice them for the whole year. “We want to convey this message to the state government,” he added.
BJP MP Kapil Patil (Bhiwandi) also accompanied the protesters and urged the chief minister to do the needful to solve their woes.
“I along with representatives of the affected residents suggested the CM to convene a meeting involving all the stake-holders such as the officials of the BMC, irrigation and water supply departments, to which the CM readily agreed,” Patil said.
Underlining the gravity of the situation in the region, Patil said, “All the industrial units have been shut (in view of water scarcity) which has led to severe unemployment among youths, which needs to be addressed immediately.”