Maharashtra minister Eknath Khadse, who allegedly permitted the use of 10,000 litres of water to prepare a helipad for his visit to drought-hit Latur district, said on Saturday that he will look into the controversy.
Revenue minister Khadse said he did not know about the wastage of water. “But looking at the dust that was there when I arrived and left, I don’t think 10,000 litres of water was used,” news agency ANI quoted him as saying.
Khadse was in Latur on Friday to take stock of the daily “Water Train” that has been supplying around 5.5 lakh litres water daily for the parched the district.
Maharashtra is reeling from severe drought, with the Marathawada region being the worst affected.
Instead of making the hour-long drive in the 42 degrees Celsius heat, Khadse decided to hop onto a helicopter for the function.
Accordingly, a temporary helipad was prepared on the outskirts of the small village with a population of around 3,000.
Local television channels showed at least two water tankers were brought to wet the helipad, make the landing area firm and to ensure that dust settled was prevented from rising when the chopper landed.
Though Khadse admitted that some water may have been used to prepare a firm landing pad, he stoutly denied that water was wasted. The move, however, attracted criticism from various quarters.
The Congress’ state unit general secretary Sachin Sawant attacked Khadse and asked what was the need to waste water when he could have easily travelled by road.
“Khadse should tender a public apology for this gross wastage of water when the Indian Railways are making so much effort to supply water to Latur. Instead, he could have easily travelled by road and taken 15-20 minutes extra,” he said.
He added that this incident proves that the current BJP-led government is still flying high in the air with little knowledge of the ground realities of the people, and the same people will bring it down to earth.