Congress, NCP avoid direct confrontation on irrigation | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Congress, NCP avoid direct confrontation on irrigation

The ruling allies avoided a direct confrontation over the sticky issue of irrigation in the cabinet on Wednesday, with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) agreeing to submit a white paper on the subject.

mumbai Updated: May 17, 2012 01:20 IST
Ketaki Ghoge

The ruling allies avoided a direct confrontation over the sticky issue of irrigation in the cabinet on Wednesday, with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) agreeing to submit a white paper on the subject.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, having scored a point over his warring ally, also tried to play down the issue. “A decision was taken that details over spending and work done will be submitted. Whether you call it a white paper or a statement or something else does not matter. But, people need to be informed. Even the Economic Survey is in the nature of a report, like a white paper,” Chavan said.

The NCP has been controlling the water resources department for the last 13 years. The party had not taken too kindly to Chavan’s statement last week, which expressed concerns over the irrigation potential created and called for a white paper. However, on Wednesday, it decided to lie low. In comparison, the Congress was more aggressive.

Sources in the cabinet said Sunil Tatkare, water resources minister, initiated the discussion on irrigation pointing out that wrong information was being spread--that only 0.1% irrigation potential had been created over the last decade.

Chavan agreed, and asked him to issue a white paper to clarify figures before the public. Several Congress ministers seconded this. In response, Tatkare, said he was willing to issue a white paper on irrigation from 1995 till date.

“No NCP minister came to Tatkare’s rescue or spoke on this subject. The party was on the back foot today. Chavan made it very clear that a white paper should be released,” said a senior Congress minister.

Meanwhile, Congress ministers Naseem Khan and Nitin Raut also slammed the finance department led by Ajit Pawar over the issue of unspent funds. They said that this year the state had not been able to spend Rs. 9000 crore of the annual plan. “If planning department has got 9,000 crore of unspent funds back, why has the department announced a 15% cut on us,” asked Khan.