“If there is no water in the dam, how can we release it? Should I urinate into it? If there is no water to drink, even urinating is not possible.”
Down with the Naked Arrogance of ‘Pawar’: First He Filled His Pockets with Murky Deals and Dried the Rivers! And Now He Mocks the Drought-Hit People!
AISA condemns the shameful statement by the Maharashtra strongman and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar where he spoke of urinating into dams so as to make up for the water shortfall in the state.
On April 7, 2013, in an attempt at being ‘comical’ about his inability to bring waters to the dams, Ajit Pawar made these shocking remarks in response to the protest of a farmer (Bhaiyya Deshmukh) from Solapur district who has been sitting on a fast for the last 55 days at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan against the current drought crisis in the state. More shockingly, as Ajit Pawar continued to rant in this vein, his minions sitting in the meeting burst into sycophantic applause!
No apology can wash off the grotesque, power-drunk arrogance that the remark conveys. But it also typifies the rantings of a criminal mind.
Nephew of Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar presently holds the finance portfolio. For the last decade, he also held the Irrigation ministry, until he was forced to resign last September following the expose on the Rs 70,000cr irrigation scam. At least three official investigation reports on the irrigation scenario in Maharashtra have exposed the deep-seated mismanagement and siphoning off of funds which plague the sector, and departmental inquiries are under way. The scale of this scam was such that the Maharashtra Economic Survey states that only 0.1 per cent of irrigated cover was added at a cost of Rs 70,000 crore! But after a “White (wash) Paper” on irrigation authored by another NCP minister, by December 2012, Mr. Pawar had sailed back into the cabinet!
It is widely acknowledged today that the present drought crisis is largely man-made. Despite having spent millions on irrigation projects, despite having the largest number of dams in the country and despite numerous water management institutions in the state, Maharashtra is still facing the worst drought in four decades.
According to South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), the current drought is not a natural calamity like the one in 1972. A comparison of rainfall in the two years clearly indicates that the lack of rainfall is not the reason for the drought. ‘The blame for this lies entirely on wrong decisions about building unviable and undesirable large dams, wrong cropping patterns, diversion of water for non priority uses, neglect of local water systems and unaccountable water management by the Maharashtra government, MWRRA (Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority, set up in 2005 under a World Bank funded programme) as well as the Union Government.’, says SANDRP.
The precarious state of water resources can be blamed on the increasing area under sugarcane cultivation backed by the politically powerful sugar-lobby in Maharashtra. Despite full-knowledge of the possibility of a drought, the planting of sugarcane was done in the drought affected areas in early 2012 and sugar industries owned by politicians sanctioned without any objection from the state government. Real estate builders exploited the land further by coming up with massive construction projects in drought affected areas. These luxurious projects with large swimming pools and gardens are a cause for significant water diversion for the elite and powerful. To top it all, the Indian premier league (IPL) is going to be held in Maharashtra this month. And, the key player in the sugar empire as well as in the IPL is none other than the Sharad Pawar. The cost of water has also increased significantly in the drought affected areas due to the lack of availability and adequate transportation, with the politician-corporator owned water-tanker lobby ruling the roost.
Even as the water continues to be diverted for the people in power, thousands of people from the drought affected areas are losing their livelihood as their cattle and crops are being destroyed and a full blown famine looms large in the horizon.
Down With The Corrupt Maharashtra Government For Creating A Man-Made Disaster And Then Mocking People’s Despair!