Several parts of Goa are facing water shortage despite above normal rains last year. Among the places where people are facing water shortage are several wards of Cotigao village panchayat in Canacona taluka, with people in Baddem and Yedda facing acute water problems; Anandwadi in Shiroda constituency; Mandrem village in Pernem taluka and the Gaondongrem village panchayat. Water shortage in many places has been perennial but the authorities have failed to address the issue. People are forced to travel a long distance to fetch water. They have to resort to agitation to get government to provide water. Recently villagers from Vannte in Sattari taluka had to ‘gherao’ water supply officials. Despite many water treatment plants having been set up and several projects aimed at augmentation of water supply having been completed hardly a few areas in the state get water supply for more than six hours a day. Even water supply in the capital city of the state, Panaji, is rationed, though people were promised 24 x 7 regular supply of water by 2017. Though most parts of the state are connected by water pipelines, the supply of water to many places is very inadequate and to a trickle at the end points. Quite a few areas continue to be without supply of potable water, despite the fact that Goa is a much smaller state whose parts are easily accessible to ensure laying of pipelines for water supply. Though the government has been promising regular water supply for decades they have failed to keep their word.
Manohar Parrikar had announced at the start of his previous tenure as chief minister in 2012 that his government would ensure that the people get 12-hour water supply in Panaji by 2014 and 24 x 7 by the end of his tenure in 2017. Though it has been five years since the promise was made people of Panaji continue to get water for just a few hours and there are no signs of the situation improving in the near future. People in nearby Porvorim constituency have been agitating time and again to ensure that they get regular water supply but the situation is far from resolved. Recently the people of Porvorim alleged that the water supply to meet their needs through tankers was being diverted elsewhere. They charged the public works department officials with involvement in diversion of water.
As the problem of water shortage during summer months has been known to all the legislators, government officials, local councillors and panchas, they must not let people face the problem but find a solution to the problem. If piped water supply becomes inadequate, a system should be set up to ensure that the supply of water begins right from the time people approach them with a complaint of water shortage. They should not wait for the people to agitate to get their basic need. The authorities seem to have got into the habit of acting only on complaints and waiting for people to agitate to provide water. The publicity stunts involving politicians in providing water supply to the people should end forthwith. Water should be provided as a right and not as a favour.
Given the fact that quite a few of water treatment plants have been set up in the state and the capacity of old ones has been increased, the state should not be facing water shortage of the magnitude it is doing now. The authorities have acknowledged that a substantial amount of water is lost in transmission and there have also been complaints of it being pilfered. The latest technology is quite capable of not only locating leakages but also detecting cases of pilferage. What is required is the will to fix the problems and the authorities can show their sincerity by taking prompt action to end the woes of the families. The complaints about diversion of water to vested interests should be addressed immediately and those involved in the illegalities should be taken to task and given exemplary punishment. Though crores of rupees are being spent on improving water supply and distribution systems, the effect is not visible everywhere in the state. The government needs to carry out an audit of the works completed over the last two decades to find out whether all the works carried out measured to the required standards. It is time that the authorities work towards ensuring quality works to ensure regular and efficient water supply.