MA­HA­RASH­TRA: PAWAR’S WA­TER WOES

Fad­navis to cut ex­cess wa­ter sup­ply to NCP chief’s fief

India Today - - STATES - By Kiran D. Tare

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

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