Even as the villages in the drought-hit regions of Maharashtra wait for weekly or fortnightly supply of potable water, thermal power plants here are guzzling water thereby fast depleting the reservoirs in the area.
A recent study by Greenpeace has found that the water-level in the reservoirs located in the affected areas had gone down considerably on account of the thermal plants there.
The coal-based power plants in three of the drought-hit regions -- Jalgaon, Akola and Parli -- have consumed 12,757 million litres during January-March and by June it is expected to touch 45,089 litres.
The amount of water consumed by the thermal plants till March was enough to provide potable water to 9.51 lakh people of Solapur city for 53 days, the study pointed out.
According to Greenpeace campaigner Jay Krishnan, thermal power plants usually consume about 4,000-7,000 litres of water an hour for every 1 MW of power generated. However, newly constructed plants consume only 3,500-4,000 litres of water per MW an hour, he said.
“Even the new thermal plants consume water that can be used to irrigate up to 7,000 hectares of agricultural land each year, or provide potable water to 8 lakh people per year,” Krishnan said and alleged that even during the drought there was mismanagement of water.
With the drought-hit regions proposed to generate a total of 13,120 MW thermal power, the picture looks grim. “Water to these projects have been liberally granted by a high powered committee headed by then state Water Resources Minister Ajit Pawar and the previous water policy of the state,” said Krishnan.