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This Diwali visit water-starved Marathwada: Congress tells PM

This Diwali visit water-starved Marathwada: Congress tells PM

Updated
PTI
3 min read
This Diwali visit water-starved Marathwada: Congress tells PM

(Eds: Updating with quotes from another rally)

Mumbai, Oct 30 (PTI) The Congress in Maharashtra Tuesday "requested" Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit the water-starved Marathwada region during this year's Diwali and demanded the Centre announce a relief package for the state.

The region in Central Maharashtra in reeling under drought-like conditions due to deficient monsoon rains this year. Last week, the state government said around 180 talukas in Maharashtra are facing a drought-like situation. The state has more than 350 talukas spread across 36 districts.

Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Ashok Chavan said the region, which consists of eight districts, needs urgent national attention.

"I request Prime Minister Modi to spend Diwali in Marathwada this year. Diwali gift for Marathwada should be a drought relief package, clean drinking water and uninterrupted power supply," Chavan said.

The former chief minister's comments came in the backdrop of Modi's Diwali greetings to the nation during his monthly 'Mann ki Baat' radio address Sunday.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished the nation a `Happy Diwali in his Mann Ki Baat. But how will the drought- struck farmers of Marathwada celebrate Diwali?" Chavan asked at a rally in Parbhani, about 500km from Mumbai in Marathwada, organised as part of the Congress statewide `Jan Sangharsh Yatra'.

"The sorrow and distress of the people of Marathwada need urgent national attention," he said.

He said the prime minister should immediately announce financial assistance for the "drought-affected" regions of Maharashtra.

The best Diwali gift for Marathwada would be a drought relief package and providing clean drinking water and uninterrupted power supply to the region, Chavan said.

The MPCC president criticised Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, saying he is busy giving interviews to celebrate four years of the BJP-Shiv Sena government instead of supervising relief operations in water scarcity-hit areas.

He asked Fadnavis to stop his "publicity stunts".

"Why is the Chief Minister giving interviews in Mumbai about the drought in Maharashtra? He should be in Marathwada, listening to the plight of the farmers," said Chavan.

Chavan, along with other state Congress leaders, is leading the third phase of the `Jan Sangharsh Yatra' across 27 Vidhan Sabha constituencies in Marathwada.

The previous phases had covered more than 50 Assembly constituencies spread across western Maharashtra and north Maharashtra.

Chavan said ministers were merely completing formalities during their drought study tours instead of listening to the demands of farmers.

"Ministers are reviewing drought preparations at night with mobile phone torches. This is a complete joke!" Chavan said.

Chavan talked about lack of focus by the government in managing the drought-like situation in the parts of the state.

"There is a grave fodder scarcity in Marathwada that is not being addressed by the government. District collectors should be given Rs 25 crore each to release emergency provisions in the region," he said.

He said while Marathwada is facing severe shortage of water, the state government is spending thousands of crores on its "failed" Jalyukt Shivar programme.

Jalyukt Shivar is the flagship water conservation programme of the Fadnavis government

"When the Jalyukt Shivar was announced (in 2015), we did not criticise the scheme because it was supposed to benefit Maharashtra.

"But it has turned into a "Jholyukt Shivar" (mired in fraud) that has only benefited contractors associated with the Shiv Sena and the BJP," said Chavan, addressing another rally in Jalna district.

Despite thousands of crores being spent on the Jalyukt Shivar scheme, the water table in Maharashtra has fallen by 2 to 3 metres, he said, quoting a state government report.

The government has been unable to efficiently conduct drought survey operations in the state, Chavan said.

"While Marathwada is suffering from drought, Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar (Latur Guardian Minister) is surveying the region with mobile phone torches at night and Pankaja Munde (another minister) is on holiday in the US," said Chavan.

The Congress leader said the saffron allies are not on the same page on various issues and often trade charges.

The Shiv Sena speaks against the BJP and the latter does the same against the former, the ex-CM said.

"The Chief Minister says we (the Sena and the BJP) are brothers. Yes, they are brothers who are out to divide Maharashtra between themselves and loot the state, Chavan said in a sharp attack on the Fadnavis government.

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

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