Rahul Gandhi assures drought-hit villagers all possible help from Delhi | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Rahul Gandhi assures drought-hit villagers all possible help from Delhi

mumbai Updated: Apr 29, 2012 00:57 IST
Yogesh Joshi

Villagers of western Maharashtra, disappointed with the government's decades-long apathy in executing water projects, vent out their pent-up anger before Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who visited drought-hit areas on Saturday.

In the tour that lasted two-and-a-half hours, Gandhi visited three places in chief minister Prithviraj Chavan's home district Satara, the region also being represented by Nationalist Congress chief Sharad Pawar.

"I have not come here to talk but to listen to you," Gandhi told waiting Zashi villagers amidst scorching heat. At Zashi, Gandhi visited a small pond that went dry for the first time in decades indicating the severity of this year's drought in this rain shadow belt.

"We want water, not promises," yelled a bunch of young villagers interrupting chief minister Chavan, who while accompanying Gandhi, tried to describe the state government's plans to tackle the crisis.

Listening patiently to these villagers, Gandhi said: "Main puri koshish karunga (I will try my best)" and left for another village, Bijvadi.

To overcome the perennial crisis of water shortage, the state in 1990s had planned a series of major projects. However despite a decade and a half, these projects have not been completed.

Visits by high profile politicians in these areas are not new to the villagers. Rajendra Khade, a young villager reminded Gandhi: "Before you, your father and mother too had come here. But nothing has happened."

The then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had visited the area in 1987 while Sonia Gandhi paid a visit in 2003 - the year registered in history as the worst drought-affected period.

At Bijvadi, Gandhi visited farms where pomegranate plantation had dried up. At Pangri, Gandhi inaugurated a fodder depot before meeting the villagers.

"I have come here to understand your woes. In the state and at the Centre, we are in power and incidentally the chief minister is also here. Whatever needs to be done in Delhi, whatever help we need to get from Delhi, we will try and get it."