Water, water everywhere, yet our tanks are dry!
Everybody agrees that water is essential for life, but when water becomes unavailable, daily life comes to a standstill. Drinking water problems, unwashed clothes for days, bathing at your relative’s house or using that one mug to brush your teeth in the morning… What are our Goans facing? What are the solutions? Few locals share their grief, while we talk to authorities, studying the options for a solution, in our attempt to look at people’s issues in Herald Cafe
It’s lunch time. Many are returning home on their two wheelers, speeding down 18th June road in Panjim and other peripheral roads. Suddenly out of nowhere a huge water tanker darts between two roads, with water leaking from the tank like a fountain. The tanker comes to the halt in front of a hotel, its pipe quickly connected tom the water tank of the hotel literally blocking traffic.
The sight is common. As establishments and hoes run out of water, it’s the water tanker that keeps the day running Most of the places that face these water issues are noted to be Panjim, Ponda, Ribandar, Bicholim, Sanguem, Canacona, Dharbandora, Mormugao and Salcete. Though some still use their age old deep wells for water supply, it’s not a common occurrence due to increase in the number of commercial buildings and societal homes. A St Inez resident claims that her water supply flow, which is supposed to be two hours a day, has been cut shot to one and a half hours. “What’s worse is that the flow is less, so how are we going to collect water? Either we need an increase in time to pump more water or the water flow should be efficient. It becomes difficult for so many reasons,” she says. Similarly, a resident of Taliegao shares her grievance saying that the rental place she is living in right now has terrible water problems. “We live on one floor of a house and the owners fill the water when it comes every morning. But we aren’t given the supply and have to come all the way to the ground floor to collect water in our buckets. The owners believe that we need to use water equally and in that hour when water is supplied, if one uses more than the other, it’s unfair,” she reveals. While this has been happening in the urban areas, some rural areas receive no water supply and have to walk miles to fetch water for the day. When the same source of water is used for different purposes such as washing clothes in water, bathing, bathing cattle, etc, it leads to water pollution. But what can they do? They surely cannot afford a tanker every other day. Water problems in Goa has given a boost to the businesses of water tankers and packaged mineral water. In turn, this has affected the expenditure. Imagine paying for drinking water every other day. “Abroad, people have access to direct drinking water from household taps, but this facility is lacking in India, making it difficult for people to get drinking water. In my house, we used to order these 20 litre mineral water bottles every three days due to water problems. We couldn’t afford wasting gas by boiling water for drinking all the time. Luckily, now we opted for a filter,” says Mary Pereira from Old Goa. Sarvesh Gawas says that his friends spend lots of money every alternate day to hire a water tanker for household use. Though the water comes in for two hours every day, it becomes impossible for them to fill at the right time due to work timings. People have been demanding a longer period of water supply. A resource that is actually supposed to be natural and free for everyone to use equally is now become a money matter. Not only do people have to pay due to water inconvenience, but lately, some are even complaining of a sudden increase in the water bills. “At my place, we get water all the time, but the bills are so high. A few months ago, I used to only pay Rs 60 to 70 and now I suddenly have bills of Rs 10,000! The Government water suppliers are not ready to check my meter unless the Rs 10,000 is paid! This is an issue faced by many; someone even got a bill of Rs 60,000,” says a disappointed resident from Moira. Even if the authorities have to look into this matter, it has to begin from minute details. They can start with checking why the meters are causing such problems and why is there a slow flow of water supply during water supply hours. Managing Director and CEO at Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Ltd, Swayan Chaudari corrects the fact where people grumble there is no water. “Water is available in abundance,” he states. However, he says that the important aspect to focus on is the distribution process, proper transmission and management of distribution. “Apart from this, increasing the time period of water supply from two hours to eight or ten hours is necessary,” he says. This problem is probably happening in all the other areas of Goa, especially in places like Canacona and Mormugao that are currently struggling for water supply; the pipes need to be checked, changed and taken care of. The only option is planning and managing the distribution process well, this will provide solutions to the water woes of the state.
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