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Now, Union minister’s chopper trip to parched Maharashtra kicks up row

Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh’s helicopter trip in drought-hit Maharashtra kicked up a storm after a BJP worker alleging that 10,000 litres of water was used to prepare a makeshift helipad.

india Updated: Apr 20, 2016 22:09 IST
Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh’s helicopter trip in drought-hit Maharashtra kicked up a storm after a BJP worker alleging that 10,000 litres of water was used to prepare a makeshift helipad.
Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh’s helicopter trip in drought-hit Maharashtra kicked up a storm after a BJP worker alleging that 10,000 litres of water was used to prepare a makeshift helipad.(Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

After Maharashtra revenue minister Eknath Khadse and Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav, Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh’s helicopter trip in drought-hit Maharashtra has kicked up a storm with a BJP worker alleging that 10,000 litres of water was used to prepare a makeshift helipad.

The matter came to light after BJP worker Dayanand Nene wrote to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis urging him to put a stop to such “colossal wastage” of water during VIP helicopter visits at a time when the state in facing acute scarcity of water.

In an e-mail to Fadnavis, Nene said the helipad was prepared on a ground using gallons of water brought by tanker for the minister’s chopper to land when Singh came to attend a programme of Gram Kisan Abhiyan in Bhiwandi on Monday.

Read | Now, water wasted for UP CM’s helipad in drought-hit Bundelkhand

Nene also attached photographs of the tanker spraying water on the ground, the welcome arch, the minister being received and the hoarding of the programme, and also the chopper carrying the minister making a landing.

Nene said, “As I too am a BJP activist, I had gone there one day earlier. And what I saw was terribly disturbing. Gallons of water through tankers were being poured on a huge piece of land, which later I understood was a makeshift helipad being put in place for (Singh’s) helicopter to land.” “It is estimated that over 10,000 litres of water was used for the same. On one hand, the government is trying its best to deal with the drought condition in the state. On the other hand nobody pays attention to such colossal wastage of water during official visits by VIPs.”

Read | 10,000 litres of water used for Khadse’s helipad

Nene urged the CM to issue a directive to all as to not to use helicopters to visit places where there are no proper helipads. “They can go to the nearest place where a helipad is available and then drive down to the site. In this case, the minister could have flown in to Thane--where there is a proper helipad and driven down to Bhiwandi which is just 20 minutes away--and it would have saved 10,000 litres of water --very important as the entire area is reeling under a 60% water cut,” he said, adding that Ulhasnagar township in the regioun is doing without water since last 45 days.

Incidentally, the conveners of the programme which was attended by hundreds of farmers were BJP MP from Bhiwandi Kapil Patil and Murbad party MLA Kisan Kathore.

Last week, Eknath Khadse faced flak for taking a chopper to a village in drought-hit Latur district, leading to wastage of nearly 10,000 litre water for a special helipad.

The visit of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav to Lalitpur on Tuesday too got mired in controversy as thousands of litres of water was allegedly used to ensure a dust-free makeshift helipad at a time when the area is witnessing drought.