GOA receives abundant rainfall which, if stored, treated and supplied through a network of pipelines, can ensure 24 x 7 potable water supply to every house in the state. Despite Goa’s small population, the public works department has not been able to provide all the villages with potable water supply. It took more than six decades for the government to supply tap water to residents of the Querim village, which is barely a few kilometres from the Opa Water Works. There are quite a few villages where water pipelines have not yet reached. Though the state takes pride in having high development parameters, it has failed to provide water to all people. Recently several residents of Charavne village in Sattari taluka took ill after consuming water from a contaminated well. They had to use well water for lack of supply of potable water. The PWD is commissioning newer pipelines, but there are old pipelines laid decades ago developing problems, either being damaged during developmental works or due to leakages or blocked lines, causing problems to people. Even areas in Panaji have to face problems due to faulty and old water pipelines. It was only recently that the work on replacement of the old pipelines was started in Panaji.
Water is a basic necessity of life. It is the responsibility of the state government to ensure that people get adequate water supply to meet their daily needs. Though the government boasts of connecting almost all villages with water pipelines, the reality is that water does not reach many of them. Water shortage in the state is felt not only during summer but also during monsoon and winter. The problem is aggravated by frequent puncture of pipelines and it takes days and weeks together to repair the damaged pipelines not only in remote areas but also in the capital city. In 2012 the government had announced that the entire state would be supplied water round the clock but five years down the line, people continue to long for supply of water for even two hours in most of the areas. Domestic and commercial consumers alike face acute water shortage between November and May; and there is no change in the pattern. The failure of the government to supply water adequately has forced people to source water from tankers from private sources. Though there are doubts and suspicions about the quality of water supplied by private tanker operators, people, particularly commercial establishments and industries, and often domestic consumers have no option but to avail the water supply to meet their needs.
The failure on the part of the government has forced many people to source their water requirements from wells and even from rivers. People in certain areas still travel distances to fetch water for domestic use. The problem becomes acute during summer prompting people to skip bath to save water and the labour to fetch it from far-off wells, springs and rivers. The skipping of bath poses health risks. The water supply projects that are underway have taken a long time to complete and the process could even be delayed further. Besides, the government has failed to ensure quality of works completed and there are complaints of water not reaching the end points despite new lines having been laid. Given the fact that the government is promoting ‘Swachh Bharat – Nitol Goem Mission’ and building toilets to maintain cleanliness, it is necessary that people get regular supply of water to make the mission a success.
The summer is setting in the state and the people and the authorities have to be prepared for yet another hot and long summer this year as predicted by experts. Year after year, over the past few decades, the summer has become hotter, exposing the people to misery and risks from consuming poor quality water. Hot and humid weathers prevalent during long summers mean more usage of water to cool down the body temperatures. Given the fact that the summer is going to be hotter and possibility of it being longer and since no forecast has been made about the onset of monsoon, it is necessary that water was judiciously used so as to prevent shortage and chaotic situation in the days ahead. The government should take steps to ensure adequate supply of water and prevent leakages. While ensuring adequate water supply, the authorities also have to make sure that there was no misuse of water and punish those misusing it. Judicious use of water would help all of us in terms of equitable sharing of the resource.