The 33-km water tunnel project in Maval taluka is the latest pawn in Maharashtra's political chessboard.
The project is dear to deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar of NCP, who controls Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC).
Pawar has been determined to bring excess water from the Pavana dam to fulfill the increasing needs of the city, inhabited largely by migrant workers who work in the nearby industries.
Building the tunnel would mean acquisition of land. The opposition BJP and Shiv Sena, which are against land acquisition, found the situation tailormade to portray the ruling Congress-NCP as anti-farmer.
Balasaheb Bhegde, the local BJP legislator and Shiv Sena parliamentarian from Maval constituency Gajanan Babar had used the issue in the Lok Sabha poll campaign.
The issue is likely to be exploited in the civic and the zilla parishad elections scheduled to be held by the end of this year.
The tunnel plan was sanctioned around six years ago. Some farmers challenged the decision in high court, which dismissed their petition.
The civic body thereafter took up the R600 crore pipeline project under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Mission (JNNURM).
The work on the pipeline began on April 18, but it was stalled after villagers began a protest. When work restarted on August 1, the villagers held a daylong bandh in Maval.
Locals led by BJP legislator Balasaheb Bhegde opposed it and the Sena joined in to support the protesting villagers.
Currently, the agitation is being seen as an attempt to isolate Pawar. On Tuesday, all political parties, including BJP, Sena, Congress and RPI came together to support the agitation.
“We have been protesting against the proposed pipeline for the last three years but Pawar is determined to take our water and give it to Pimpri-Chinchwad,” said Balasaheb Pingle of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, the organisation leading the protests.