All parties should unite over state's drought situation: Pawar

Mumbai, March 11 -- Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has appealed to ally Congress and other parties to put their political differences aside and work together to mitigate drought in the state. Pawar was in Mumbai to attend an NCP function on the occasion of Women's Day.

He has also requested people to conserve water, cooperate with each other and share water if required without fighting.

He also lauded the state government for efforts taken to tackle the situation, which he described as 'grave and worrying' considering it had caused severe drinking water scarcity.

"We will hold a meeting soon with ministers at the Centre where demands made by the state including an increase in the number of days for cattle camps, issues related to NREGA, fund to be released for Rabi drought of Rs. 1,801 crore, and so on will be talked about."

Comparing the current situation to that of the worse drought Maharashtra faced in 1972, he said at the time the shortage was of food grain, but now it was drinking water. "Food grain can be imported, but drinking water is difficult to bring in," he said, adding that parties came together in 1972 to deal with the situation.

"This is the time for us to bury our differences and help people get water and save their cattle. We can all take political digs at each other on some other occasion," he said.

Explaining the intensity of the situation, Pawar said currently there were 2,136 tankers providing water to 1,663 villages.

"This figure stood at 230 tankers to 212 villages during the same time last year, which shows the intensity of the situation. What is worrying is that this is increasing by 200 tankers every week. In Jayakwadi and Ujni dams there is zero water left," he said.

He ruled out the possibility of getting water from neighbouring states.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.