Four newspaper delivery men in Kolhapur have undertaken a mission to save unwanted water wastage.
Residents of Kolhapur face severe water shortages. According to the city’s Water Resource Department (WRD), there’s barely 35% water left in its dams.
Fearing erratic water supply, residents try and capture as much water as they can. Some of them go to sleep leaving the taps on, in the hope that whenever water gets pumped through, they will hear it. Water supply begins at the unearthly hour of 2 am in some areas. With no one awake at that time to turn off the taps, water gets wasted.
This behaviour irked newspaper delivery men, Kiran Vangutte, Sunil Samdolikar, Shashikant Jadhav and Sunil Chavan.
As they mount their cycles every morning to distribute newspapers, they also keep an eye out for open taps and water wastage.
They keep residents informed about preventing water wastage and try to alert them against leaving taps open. “People leave the tap running while sleeping, so thousands of liters of water go wasted,” Vangutte said, exasperated.
He covers the areas of Shukrawar Peth, Shaniwar Peth, Utareshwar Peth and Shivaji Peth. Once, when he told a resident to not leave the tap on and head to sleep, he was met with defiance. Vangutte hit back with a cheeky solution. “We offered to pay the bill of a plumber to him. He realized his mistake and from next day started closing the tap,” Vangutte said.
Water vigilantes such as these four men are an inspiring force. In Mumbai, 80-year-old artist Aabid Surti runs a one-man NGO, Drop Dead Foundation. He repairs leaks and plumbing problems for free, as most leaks cause immense water wastage. When he first started the NGO in 2007, he had visited 1666 houses and fixed 414 leaking taps for free, and saved about 4.14 lakh litres of water. Read his story here.
The water shortage in Kolhapur was caused due to an increase in demand for water for agriculture as well as urban needs, according to the WRD. The water shortage is expected to stay until the monsoons arrive.