Day after cabinet expansion, CM does balancing act with portfolios
A day after the expansion of his cabinet, Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday reshuffled portfolios, before leaving for a four-day tour of Russia. Fadnavis managed to do a balancing act, as he took away some departments held by influential ministers of the BJP, and at the same time, kept ally Shiv Sena happy. The Sena’s junior ministers got charge of politically significant departments such as home (rural) and cooperation.
BJP chief Amit Shah’s confidant Chandrakant Patil emerged as the number two in the Fadnavis cabinet as he was given the revenue department, which is seen as second to chief minister’s post in terms of protocol. Patil now has revenue in addition to public works department (PWD), while his cooperation and agricultural marketing departments have been allocated to newly inducted Subhash Deshmukh. Cooperation is a politically significant department as the opposition —Congress and NCP — held sway over rural Maharashtra for a long time through their control on the cooperative sugar, banking and milk sectors, which form the backbone of the rural economy in the state.
Energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule will now handle additional responsibility of the excise department. Deshmukh and Bawankule are both considered close to Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari.
Potholes, waterlogging and traffic jams aside, the heavy rain has brought some cheer for Mumbaiites. Close to a week’s rainfall adds 1.8 lakh million litres of usable water to the catchment areas, which provide water to the city. This means, the city received water that accounts for 50 days of supply from the rainfall between July 1 and July 9.
The seven lakes supplying water to the city – Modak Sagar, Vehar, Tansa, Tulsi, Bhatsa, Upper Vaitarna and Middle Vaitarna – together have 2.9 lakh million litres of water as of Saturday. The lakes had 3 lakh million litres at the same time last year. Starting October 1, the city requires 14.36 lakh million litres to go without water cuts till July 2017.
Ashok Tawadia, chief hydraulic engineer, BMC, said, “Rainfall in the catchment areas in the last one week has been good. We have met more than 20% of the city’s requirement for the next year.”
The data, which was released on Saturday, brings cheer as the city has been reeling under a water-cut for a year now. Lack of rainfall in 2015 led the BMC to impose a 20% water-cut in August 2015.