The district collector of Latur, an arid drought- hit district in Maharashtra, has imposed prohibitory orders till 31 May banning more than five people from assembling at a time at water tanker-filling points, public wells, tanker-plying routes and storage tanks. The preventive measure follows violence over water near tanks run by the Latur civic body. The decision was taken following complaints by water tanker operators. As water keeps getting scarce due to the drought that the state is reeling under, its cost has risen from Rs 700 to Rs 1,800 for 5,000 litre s. Latur has become a district of tankers criss-crossing the many lanes and bylanes.
Those who can afford tankers call for them, but the poor cannot afford them and feel only the rich have access to a natural resource which should be freely available. They have been attacking water tankers and taking away the water. Such escalations, which were sporadic, are now becoming increasingly common across Latur.
Latur gets water supply through the piped system only once a week. The civic body has announced severe cuts in the water supply through pipelines until the rains, as the waters stored in the dams of the district have run out. Even when the water does come, there is no fixed time for it. Often piped water is supplied after midnight. People are forced to hit the streets then, standing in queues for over three hours at a stretch.
The drought and water shortage has also led to large migration from Latur to cities like Mumbai and Pune. The situation in Latur is worsening and without an early advent of rains, water riots could become commonplace with or without Section 144.