Water woes in Pune further strained relations between BJP and its ally Shiv Sena as the latter today launched a signature campaign to oppose District Guardian Minister Girish Bapat's decision to release water from Khadakwasla dam to adjacent Daund and Indapur talukas.
Joining the anti-Bapat campaign already launched by other parties, including NCP, MNS and Congress, Shiv Sena city president Vinayak Nimhan said the memorandum accompanying citizen's signatures, being collected by activists at various public places, would be sent to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to oppose the "arbitrary" decision of the minister.
The Sena activists also staged a demonstration before the minister's office in Kasba Peth area last night. They organised a prayer in front of the famous Ganesh temple there seeking "wisdom" for Bapat, who, however, has assured Pune residents that there would not be any further cut
in their current water supply owing to the sharing with the two neighbouring towns.
Notwithstanding political opposition and the ire expressed at different citizens' forums on the issue, the state Irrigation Department yesterday released 600 cusecs of water from Khadakwasla reservoir to Indapur and Daund tehsils, which are reeling under severe water shortage in wake of the prevailing drought situation in Maharashtra.
However, Pune Collector Saurabh Rao has assured people that there would not be an additional cut in water provision to the city, which currently is getting municipal water supply every alternate day to tide over the shrinking storage in Khadakwasla dam.
Mayor of Pune Prashant Jagtap had earlier condemned Bapat's decision to divert the water, saying the civic body was not taken into confidence or consulted on the issue.
Bapat, in a joint meeting three days ago, took the decision to release 1 TMC water to Indapur and Daund tehsils. It was opposed by corporators of various parties in Pune Municipal Corporation and a delegation, led by Mayor Jagtap, even submitted a memorandum to the district Collector on Tuesday to "rethink" the decision.
Barring BJP, all other parties demanded that the decision be revoked and also sought Bapat's resignation. On Tuesday, MNS activists had vandalised the state Irrigation Department's office here protesting the decision of sharing water from city reservoirs, prompting police to
tighten bandobast outside Bapat's office in the city.
Meanwhile, Pune's Guardian Minister Girish Bapat today urged all parties not to "politicise" the issue of water sharing with neighbouring talukas and assured that the released water is only for drinking purpose and will not be used for farming or sugarcane cultivation in the region.
"The water crisis has become a question of life and death for people living in Indapur and Daund tehsils and I urge all political parties from the civic body not to politicise the issue as everybody in the district has right over the water," Bapat said addressing a press conference here.
"I assure that the released one TMC water will only be used for drinking purpose for approximately four lakh population and for cattle and we will make sure that the water is not used for sugarcane and farming purpose," he said.
Reiterating the stand of the district administration, Bapat said the city reservoir has adequate water stock until mid-July and Pune city will not face any further water cuts in the coming days.
"Even if the situation aggravates, we have one TMC water in the dead stock in the reservoir, which can be lifted. However, looking at the present condition and forecast of monsoon arrival, we will not have to touch that dead stock water.
"Water is being released from one of the two dams from Lavasa and that will be reserved in the reservoir," he said. The minister said the decision to release water was taken after thorough deliberations and considering the present stock in reservoirs.
Bapat said adequate measures have been taken by the district administration and Irrigation Department to curb water thefts from the canal leading to Indapur and Daund.
The Irrigation Department had yesterday released 600 cusecs water from Khadakwasla reservoir to Indapur and Daund. The entire one TMC water will be released in a phased manner in the next 12-13 days.
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