The acute water crisis raging across the state this summer has seen the demand for water tankers at its highest over the last five years.
The crisis has been caused by the drought-like conditions in several talukas. At the end of the third week of May, 4,615 villages in the state, most of them in Marathwada region, have been severely hit, and as many as 5,859 tankers are delivering water across the state.
The crisis is particularly severe this year, with villages across Marathwada and Madhya Maharashtra remaining dry, forcing the state government to declare many of these talukas drought-hit. Even in 2014 and 2015, when two consecutive monsoons had failed, the total number of villages affected was less than half seen this year.
As per water tanker records maintained by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, the worst-affected regions in the state include Nashik, Pune and Marathwada regions, which collectively account for over 50 per cent of the affected villages. But the greater worry is the delay in the arrival of monsoon this year.
The demand for tankers has shot up since the end of April. A residential society, which required one tanker for two days, is now demanding two tankers daily, said a worker with Sheetal Tankers in Pimple Gurav.
Latest records show that 3,103 tankers have been pressed into service to supply water to 2,190 villages in Marathwada. For the 1,014 villages in Nashik region, a total of 1,216 tankers are being used while in Pune region, 791 affected villages are supported by 957 tankers.