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Severe Water Shortage Across Bengal Amid Heatwave; People Resort to Protests

Road blockades and local protests are sweeping West Bengal due to a shortage in water supply and frequent power cuts.
protest in chandrakona.

Protest in chandrakona.

West Bengal has been reeling under severe heatwave conditions over the past week. In the meantime, power cuts and drinking water problems have come to the fore. Protests are increasing across the state, including Kolkata.

Jadavpur, Tollygunge, Haridebpur, Sealdah, Bowbazar and many other places in Kolkata have faced severe drinking water crises along with power cuts. The situation is similar in other districts of South Bengal, including West and East Midnapore, Purulia, Bankura, Burdwan, Hooghly, and Birbhum. Local residents claim that despite repeated appeals to the panchayat or municipality, no work is being done, forcing them to protest.

On Friday, residents of Vishalakshmi Tala, Malpara at Devanandpur in Hooghly district blocked the road, demanding water. They have warned authorities that no one will vote in the panchayat elections if the water problem is not solved.

Manas Biswas, a local resident, said that in the last few months, there has been a problem with drinking water in his area. The Beneficiary Committee formed under the supervision of the Panchayat member of the area has collected Rs 4,000 from each family for drinking water pipelines, but the water supply remained deficient. Water has not yet reached many houses. Even in houses that have water lines, there is not enough water. There was no solution, even after informing the local MLA.

Biswas said that no one in the village will vote for the panchayat if the water problem is not solved.

According to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] leadership in the Devanandpur area, the people of this area earlier used the water of the Saraswati River for their daily needs. Now that water is entirely unusable. On the other hand, all the tube wells in the area are not working. Pipeline water is the only hope.

On Friday, a protest for water was also held at Chandrakona, West Medinipur district. Since November, in large areas of Chandrakona Block No. 2, machines have been rendered useless in Sajal Dhara a government project for supplying water. The locals said the beneficiary committee raised money in the name of repair, but it was not repaired.

Residents blocked the Maheshpur-Garbeta state highway with pots, jugs, and buckets on Friday. The blockade lasted from 8 am to 12 pm. Tree trunks were thrown onto the road. Finally, when the police came and promised drinking water, the protesters went back.

Locals also blocked the road, demanding water in several places in Purulia on Friday. Women blocked the Adra-Kashipur state highway in Rangiladi village of Kashipur block. After about three hours of blockade, the police arrived and promised drinking water.

A protesting woman said they must walk several kilometres to collect drinking water. They have applied for water in several locations but have been unsuccessful, so they have chosen the path of agitation.

Locals also protested for drinking water, led by the CPI(M) in Purulia's Rainy Road area. About 20,000 people here are facing a severe drinking water crisis, said the Left leadership in the area.

On Thursday, women protested in Mejia, Bankura district, demanding water.

Protest in Bankura

Protest in Bankura

The Haldia industrial area of East Medinipur district has also seen a severe drinking water crisis. Residents said saline water has been coming from the tube wells.

Along with the districts, state capital Kolkata is also experiencing an acute drinking water problem. Areas like Tollygunge and Jadavpur in South Kolkata have the highest drinking water problems. Sukantapalli, Aravindnagar, and Samajgarh areas of Ward No. 95 of Kolkata Municipality have suffered drinking water shortages. The situation is similar in wards 103, 106 and 109 of Jadavpur. The problem has reached such a level that the common people now have to buy water to meet their essential needs.

The municipality is working to set up booster pumping stations in all areas with a drinking water crisis.

A top official of the municipality's water supply department said, "In this unbearable heat, people are taking baths several times. Everyone is using more water. As a result, the demand for drinking water has increased during this time."

Besides water, power cut problems have also irked the residents of Kolkata.

Debasish Banerjee, managing director of the CESC, said that the main reason behind these power outages was the excessive use of electrical appliances beyond the sanctioned load. This problem will not be solved if the citizens do not consume electricity wisely.

The CESC also sent out an SMS notification to all Kolkata residents for judicious use of power: Our city is facing an unprecedented heat wave. We appeal to all consumers for judicious use of electrical appliances, to restrict extreme overloading of electrical networks and help us serve better.

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