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Posted at: Mar 19, 2019, 6:51 AM; last updated: Mar 19, 2019, 6:51 AM (IST)

Ajanta Caves sans water for a month now

Maharashtra Govt severs connection due to non-payment of bills
Ajanta Caves sans water for a month now
With the electricity to main water supply pump severed on February 18, the Ajanta Caves have been running on reserve water. Tribune photo

Aparna Banerji

Ahead of World Water Day on March 22, the Ajanta Caves, in an embarrassment to the Maharashtra Government, have been left to languish without water for a month now amid an intensifying Marathwara drought.

A UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the oldest Buddhist wall paintings in the world, the water supply to the caves has been discontinued by the Maharashtra electricity department due to non-payment of bills by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).

With the electricity to main water supply pump (and water filter) severed on February 18, the caves have been running on reserve water. Source said if the water connection was not restored immediately, tourism would be badly affected.

The MTDC owes over Rs 3 crore to the Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran (MJP) since 2016. The MJP, in a February 20 notice, informed the MTDC about severing water connection on February 18 and sought immediate payment of outstanding dues amounting to Rs 4 lakh for 2019. However, the payment is till due.

The department implored to ensure the payment of at least the outstanding amount of Rs 2,27,590 pending for January 2019, for the restoration of electricity to the caves. But to no avail.

Sources said: “The water will last for two to three days at the most, after which it will be difficult to sustain tourism. The government is just not heeding calls for payment. All neighbouring dams, including Tondapur, which supplies water to Ajanta, are also rapidly running out of water.”

No water connection at the Ajanta caves has been coupled with severe drought in Marathwara, hitting the entire village of Ajanta, which is currently surviving on water tankers and the entire parched Sillod block under which 131 villages fall.

Danve DS, senior conservation assistant at the Ajanta Caves, said: “Right now, we are making do with a water reserve in a water tanker but if the connection isn’t restored soon, there might be a crisis.”

BB Sadavarte, sectional engineer, MJP, said: “An outstanding amount of Rs 4,20,000 for two months in 2019 is pending towards MTDC.”

Vijay Yadav, MTDC regional manager, Aurangabad, said: “The funds for the Ajanta Ellora Development Project had expired this year after which we are awaiting fresh funds. We had paid electricity bills worth Rs 2 lakh for 2019 to the MJP but they haven’t furthered it. The problem will be resolved within 2-3 days.”

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