Mumbai

Water released, but another problem crops up  

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The Congress and the NCP which have been targeting the Maharashtra government for doing precious little to stop the alarming rise in farmer suicides and its alleged indifference to the woes of people in the drought hit region has castigated the Devendra Fadnavis establishment  for releasing waters into the Jayakwadi dam at the expense of farmers in Western Maharashtra.

 

On Monday, senior Congress leader and former State Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat filed a petition in the Bombay High Court objecting to the release of waters from the upstream Bhandardara and Nilwande dams in Ahmednagar district in Western Maharashtra into the Jayakwadi dam, situated downstream in Aurangabad district in the rain-shadow Marathwada region.

 

The State government on Saturday ordered the immediate release of 7.89 tmcft in an urgent measure to palliate the water-woes of districts in Marathwada, which is reeling from a staggering 42 per cent rainfall deficit this year.

The discharge of water began today as hundreds of irate farmers in Ahmednagar demonstrated against the State government, blocking the Ahmednagar-Aurangabad highway at several points.

 

“The BJP government cannot strip Ahmednagar of its water reserves by diverting water from the upstream dams to relieve Marathwada,” Mr. Thorat said in Mumbai. 

 

The agitating farmers claimed that the Jayakwadi currently held 40 tmcft in reserve. The demonstration was endorsed by senior NCP and Congress leaders who opposed the BJP’s ‘largesse’ to Marathwada when the Jayakwadi had adequate reserves.

 

“The government’s move, without consulting the farmers of Ahmednagar, is wholly unwarranted especially when the district itself is reeling under severe drought-like conditions. The Jayakwadi has enough water for the present to cater to the needs of the farmers in Marathwada,” said NCP leader Madhukar Pichad accusing the BJP of “whipping up tensions” between farmers of Maharashtra and Marathwada.

 

Paradoxically, a section of NCP and Congress leaders stridently ticked-off the BJP government over its alleged inaction to stem farmer suicides in Marathwada during the opening of the winter session of the State Legislature in Nagpur.

 

The Jayakwadi project, completed in 1976 was touted as the panacea for the irrigation woes of drought-prone Marathwada. Despite the dam having a sizable catchment area (21,774 sq km), a major portion of the water, when released to relieve Marathwada, is taken up by the 22 major and medium dams constructed in the Nashik and Ahmednagar districts. 

 

The projects built on the initiatives of Congress and NCP politicos with the objective of harnessing rainwater for farmers in their constituencies in Western Maharashtra.

 

 “In reality, there is only 17 tmcft in the Jayakwadi. The government’s directive is the bare minimum. We need more than 19 tmcft to tide the present crisis,” said Jayaji Suryawanshi, president of Jayakwadi Pani Sangharsha Kruti Samiti, a farmers’ body .

 

Stating that water- sharing tensions was a common feature, Mr. Suryawanshi censured the Congress and NCP leaders in Western Maharashtra for their “double standards”, feigning sympathy for farmer suicides in Marathwada while opposing any practical move to alleviate the turmoil of drought-hit farmers in the region.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 12:57:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/water-released-but-another-problem-crops-up/article6673396.ece

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