Lok Sabha elections 2024: Drought in the time of polls

17 April,2024 07:20 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Dharmendra Jore

Promises have fallen flat in certain regions where water shortage is perennial.

Over 5,000 villages are being supplied water through tankers. File pic

Mumbaikars and the politicians who are seeking their votes may not be affected yet, but their counterparts in rural Maharashtra have been staring at acute water scarcity that leads to unrest in the time of campaign. Everyone loves a drought, they say. But do politicians love drought during elections? Nature spares none as the politicians will be subjected to questioning over the measures that they would be taking to mitigate water scarcity in the long run. Promises have fallen flat in certain regions where water shortage is perennial.

On Monday, the state's water stock in the big, medium and small reservoirs had depleted to 33.33 per cent. With two more months to go for the monsoon (if it arrives on time), the state is staring at an acute water scarcity in mid April. Over 5,000 villages are being supplied water through tankers. The number of tankers is expected to increase further because of the rising temperature.

The severity is more in Marathwada where drought is perennial. Compared to other regions, the backward Marathwada doesn't have as many irrigation projects. The resource of its bigger project of Jayakwadi is divided between industry, agriculture and drinking water. Marathwada is followed by North Maharashtra and Western Maharashtra. Situation is much better in Vidarbha where 10 Lok Sabha seats will go to polls in the first two phases. The Nagpur division where the first phase is scheduled on April 19 is completely tanker-free as of now.

The public outcry in Marathwada and other regions going to polls in the later phases will be louder as the voting day nears. The political parties, their candidates and campaigners, will have to hear the demanding voices and roll out promises. Criticism will be hurled by the ruling and opposition alliances at each other. Slamming the Congress and NCP, Devendra Fadnavis-led government had started working on a water grid for Marathwada, fast-tracked delayed projects in other regions.

The Fadnavis-led opposition had taken on the MVA government for putting a spanner in the previous government's irrigation plans. The (undivided) NCP was again the BJP's target. Former water resources minister Ajit Pawar's name would be taken time and again in an alleged irrigation scam. Now Ajit Pawar is BJP's ruling partner. The BJP will spare him the previous criticism, but the opposition is most likely to use the AJit-BJP's past in its anti-government campaign.

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