After Shahi Snan in Kumbh, HC stops dam water for Jain fair

Mumbai: In view of water scarcity in Maharashtra, the Bombay High Court today restrained the state government from releasing water from Gangapur dam in Nashik and nearby reservoirs during Mahavir Jain festival at a twin-pinnacled peak in Nashik district from February 11 to 16.

The direction was given by a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka on a petition filed by H M Desarda, a professor from Pune, who apprehended that the government may release water from the dams during the forthcoming religious festival just as it had done during the Kumbh festival last year.

The high court also directed the Principal Secretary of the state's Irrigation department to file an affidavit setting out outer time period when the rules of Maharashtra Irrigation Act would be framed.

Mangi-Tungi is a prominent twin-pinnacled peak located near Tahrabad about 125 km from Nashik. Mangi at 4,343 ft height above sea level is the western pinnacle while Tungi, standing 4,366 ft high, is on the eastern side.

The bench said that though Maharashtra Irrigation Act had been passed the rules had not been framed so far. In the absence of the rules, it would be difficult to implement the Act, the Judges said.

The court also directed Maharashtra government to declare its water policy during the next hearing of the petition on February 29. The matter would be placed high on board on that day in view of its importance, the Judges noted.

In September last year, the high court had directed the state not to release water from Gangapur dam for the 'shahi snan' during the Kumbh Mela even though many parts of the state are facing drought.

Professor Desarda had challenged the state's decision to release one TMC (thousand million cubic) water for every 'shahi snaan' during the Kumbh Mela even though many parts of Maharashtra are facing a drought.

The bench had then ruled that the state government would have to take prior permission from the court if it wanted to use the dam water for Kumbh Mela.

The court had criticised the state government for releasing two TMC water for September 13 shahi snaan. "The government has a policy which categorises its priority of water for drinking purposes comes first and supply of water for such shahi snaan purposes comes in the last category," the court had said.

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