Even as the Congress is trying to patch up with the Nationalist Congress Party over the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank issue, it has decided to question its ally further on the water resources management in the dry areas of Vidarbha.
On May 26, the party will organise a convention to discuss the irrigation backlog of Vidarbha in state Congress president Manikrao Thakre’s hometown Yavatmal, 150km south of Nagpur.
In the recently concluded budget session of the state legislature, Thakre had taken the initiative to stall NCP minister Sunil Tatkare’s proposed bill that gave him powers to allot dam water to industry on a priority basis. The Congress had forced the alliance government to change priority and place irrigation before industry.
The allegation that the water resources department — which was earlier led by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar — used its powers to allot water indiscriminately to industry is likely to be raised again at the Congress convention.
In Vidarbha, water from several dams has already been allotted to a number of thermal power stations and other industries, which has upset farmers.
Denying any political gain in organising the convention, Thakre said Vidarbha needed at least Rs25,000 crore to exploit its irrigation potential. “We want [dam] water in Vidarbha to be used for irrigation. We will discuss a policy and then apprise the chief minister.”
Thakre added that Vidarbha's irrigation backlog was huge. “Though irrigation backlog based on financial parameters is now over, the government had promised to remove the backlog based on physical parameters, but hasn’t done so yet.”