Even before the summer months are upon us the need to allocate water for parched Marathwada region from dams on the Godavari River in Nashik has threatened to pit politicians from Nashik and Ahmednagar district’s with the rest of Marathwada region over sharing of river waters.
Vociferous protests from politicians cutting across party lines in Nashik and Ahmednagar districts have begun over the proposed decision of the government to release three TMC’s of water each from Mula, Bhandardara and Darna dams on November 28 and November 29.
The grim reality of the situation can be gauged from the state dam storage data of November 19 when one compares Nashik with Marathwada divisions. The water stock in major dams of Nashik division is as follows: Darna 93 per cent, Gangapur 77 per cent, Mukane 49 per cent, Bhavali 100 per cent, Kadva 91 per cent, Palkhed 86 per cent and Mula in Ahmednagar district 59 per cent.
As against this the water stock in major dams of Marathwada region is as follows: Urdhav Penganga 61 per cent, Vishnupuri 80 per cent, Jayakwadi 3 per cent, Majalgaon and Manjara both zero per cent. Although Urdhav Penganga and Vishnupuri are sufficiently full the two dams bordering the state are of no real use for Marathwada region.
The war over sharing water with Marathwada which received very scanty rainfall this monsoon has already intensified with former BJP MLA Amarsinha Pandit calling upon all party legislators and leaders from Marathwada to shed their ideological divide and wage an agitation for allocation of water from the Godavari river basin.
With the winter session of the state legislature due to start from December 10 at Nagpur, the issue is set to divide the state on regional lines.
However, barring him and NCPs Minister for Public Works (Infrastructure), Jaydutta Kshirsagar none of the political stalwarts from Marathwada like BJP MP Gopinath Munde, former Congress chief minister’s Ashok Chavan and Shivajirao Nilangekar and others have made any significant demand as yet. On the other hand Nashik district Guardian Minister NCP’s Chhagan Bhujbal and Congress minister for Agriculture Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil have registered their staunch opposition to the move to release additional water to Marathwada.
The latest opponent to the proposed release of water to Marathwada has been the Nashik Municipal Corporation. Civic corporators cutting across party lines in Nashik have argued that already the civic body has utilised 12 TMC of its reserved share and moreover, the water stock in all the 350 dams in the district is just 59 per cent. They argue that even if the water is released to Marathwada region because of lack of proper canals the water will either evaporate or percolate in the ground without any water reaching Marathwada.
The release of 3 TMC of water from Mula dam in Ahmednagar to Jayakwadi dam in Marathwada yesterday sparked off vociferous protests from farmers in Shrirampur taluka of Ahmednagar district. Early yesterday agitators owing allegiance to Shiv Sangram Sanghatna stood submerged in the river bed as the released waters made its 7 Kms journey downstream towards Jayakwadi.
But more than that as per the governments own data for week ending November 26, there are more water tankers being deployed in Western Maharashtra than in the parched Marathwada region. In the 384 villages and 2,640 hamlets spread over five district’s of Western Maharashtra, there are 55 government and 520 private water tankers deployed for providing drinking water. As against this in the 163 villages and 81 hamlets spread over 8 district’s of Marathwada there are 55 government and 252 private water tankers deployed for providing drinking water. Clearly the deployment of water tankers is all set to become yet another flash point in this escalating war over water sharing.