Forty-two villages in Sangli’s Jat taluka – with mostly Kannada speaking residents – have written to Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis asking him to allow them to merge with neighbouring state Karnataka.
The Pani Sangharsha Samiti, which wrote the letter, said the farmers of the region were tired of the daily struggle for water, as the state government has failed to complete the Mhaisal project – an irrigation scheme to bring more water to these border villages.
Under the scheme that was sanctioned three decades ago, water was to be lifted and redistributed to the drought-prone villages on either side of the Maharashtra-Karnataka border.
The farmers said they were angry because the Karnataka government has completed the project in drought-prone Belgaum, which shares a 150-km border with Jat taluka.
The Samiti has also written to Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah, asking him to help the villages merge with his state.
Samiti president Sunil Potdar said the villagers will also march to the Sangli district collector’s office next week. The 42 villages were not only facing a water problem, but are also not provided with basic amenities such as roads, transport and power, Potdar said.
“We have been hearing about the Mhaisal project for 34 years. Two generations of farmers have waited, but the water is yet to come. The distribution network in Karnataka, on the other hand, has changed the lives of farmers who were facing similar troubles until two years ago,” said Mahadeo Eaklagi, the sarpanch of Jadar Boblad village.
Another farmer Prakash Kate said the government had done some excavation work for a canal, but it was closed in four months. “The reason they gave us was lack of funds.”
The Karnataka government has expressed its willingness to lay the distribution network in Maharashtra, if the state allows them, sources said.