Alleging that the ongoing drought in Maharashtra is man-made, Republican Party of India (A) president Ramdas Athavale on Tuesday launched a broadside on the ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party coalition’s “biased policies”. Mr. Athavale charged that some parts of the State received favoured treatment while some were utterly neglected.

“The regions of Marathwada and Vidarbha are bearing the brunt of this drought… even some parts of Western Maharashtra have not escaped,” said Mr. Athavale, speaking to reporters here.

He said that this lent credence to the fact that politicos in Western Maharashtra were only bent on preserving their interests and ensuring that all was green in their own constituencies.

“The very fact that 1,300 tankers were pressed into service in December itself last year is proof of the State government’s mismanagement that has created this water-scarcity in the first place,” said the RPI(A) chief.

Mr. Athavale demanded that the Central government also pitch in and provide aid to the State — amounting to Rs. 5,000 crore — to alleviate the crisis.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party castigated the State government for dragging its feet on the probe into massive irrigation irregularities.

In a letter to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Leader of the Opposition in the Council Vinod Tawde said that though evidence had been presented in successive sessions that the State’s per hectare costs were the highest in the country, there has been no effort to inquire into irrigation anomalies.

In December 2012, the State government finally decided to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under noted water expert Madhav Chitale to probe the irrigation scam.

Mr. Tawde, in his letter, said that that he had written to Mr. Chitale sometime back in order to submit evidence regarding the ‘corruption’ in the four major Irrigation Development Corporations in the State.

However, Mr. Chitale had written back stating he had no power to name the authorities and ministers responsible for the scam, claimed Mr. Tawde.

A government resolution issued at the time of the formation of the SIT under Mr. Chitale gave the latter audit powers to investigate the cost overruns of the major and medium irrigation projects in the State; but did not empower him to name names. This aspect must be amended so as to give the SIT more powers, demanded Mr. Tawde in his letter.

The committee is due to submit its report within six months.

Meanwhile the NCP has hit back at the Opposition, demanding the immediate dissolution of the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation that had been in the hands of the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance for the last 18 years.