MAHARASHTRA: PAWAR’S WATER WOES
Fadnavis to cut excess water supply to NCP chief’s fief
When Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar called on Devendra Fadnavis in the first week of June with a plea for the state’s drought-affected areas, the chief minister had a plan in mind. Within a week, Fadnavis cut the excess water flowing to Pawar’s hometown Baramati and diverted it to the drought-affected areas of Satara and Solapur districts.
Pawar has built up Baramati as a family fief, and has always been quick to remind locals that they never felt the water shortage because they got enough from the Nira-Deoghar dam. The dam has been a bone of contention in the area. A 1984 order by the state government states that 57 per cent of the water from the dam should be diverted on its right bank canal to the drought-prone areas of Satara and Solapur districts and the remaining 43 per cent should be used for the towns of Baramati and Indapur on the left bank. In 2009, then water resources minister Ajit Pawar, nephew of Pawar Sr, changed the order and allowed 60 per cent water to flow to Baramati and Indapur. This order expired in 2017. Now, Fadnavis has reinstated the original order on water distribution. The move has not only shaken the Pawars, it has also created a rift in the NCP. With the assembly poll just three months away, Pawar’s image as unchallenged leader has been dented. The NCP chief has always been accused of not doing enough for the 22 villages around Baramati because they vote against him. Now, with all of Baramati receiving less water, everyone will suffer, the area’s sugarcane farmers most of all.
NCP MP from Satara Udayanraje Bhosale lost little time to target party opponent Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar for “depriving” the people of Satara and Solapur districts.
DRY DAYS Sharad Pawar speaks at the NCP foundation day, Jun. 10, Mumbai