Mumbai: Challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that 16,000 villages in Maharashtra have become ‘drought-free’, the state Congress on Saturday demanded that the Bharatiya Janata Party government release the list of all these villages.
In his speech in Shirdi (Ahmednagar) on Friday, Modi had patted Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ government for making 16,000 villages self-sufficient in water, while work was on to make another 9,000 villages drought-free very soon, under the flagship Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan (JSA) scheme.
“The reality is that there is a serious drought situation prevailing in at least 20,000 villages in 201 sub-districts of the total 353 sub-districts in the state.
“The state government claims that the number of tankers supplying water to villages has reduced by 80 per cent, but from October (2018) itself, hundreds of tankers have already been deployed to grapple with the water shortage,” state Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said.
This makes it clear that the implementation of the JSA scheme by the BJP is a complete failure and there is massive corruption in it with the Prime Minister uttering ‘lies’ on the figures of the drought-free villages, he pointed out.
Sawant added that the government has spent more than Rs 7,459 crore on 541,000 JSA schemes, plus another 20,420 works are in progress, yet the spectre of drought has hit the state as the monsoon ended this year.
In this context, he cited the Pune-based Directorate of Geographical Survey & Development Agency (GSDA)’s 2018-2019 report to the state government which warns of a severe water crisis in view of the shocking state of groundwater levels in the state.
“The GSDA report says that compared to the situation five years ago in Maharashtra, the current groundwater level in 13,984 villages in 252 sub-districts, has plummeted by more than one metre, in 7,212 villages upto two metres, in 3,430 villages by upto three metres and in 3,342 villages it has gone down by more than three metres,” Sawant said.
Alleging that this is a serious indicator of the corruption in the JSA scheme, he demanded a judicial inquiry into the scheme to ascertain where the Rs 7,500 crore has gone.
He also sought the list of all the 16,000 villages already declared drought-free and the names of the 9,000 which will be declared water-sufficient, as per the PM’s statement on Friday, “to unmask the massive corruption in the scheme by the BJP government here.”
Sawant said that it was “unfortunate that Modi is seen ‘lying’ even in a sacred place like Shirdi” though holding an important position of dignity.