Ajit Pawar’s Rs70,000 crore uri'nation’
Moneylife Digital Team 08 April 2013

Ajit Pawar, in a shocking statement asked if he was expected to fill empty dams by urinating in them. While party workers laughed and applauded, the junior Pawar seems to have forgotten that his government spent over Rs70,000 crore for increasing the irrigation potential in Maharashtra by a mere 0.1% in one of the biggest scandals in the state

Ajit Pawar, nephew of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and deputy chief minister of Maharashtra has provoked national outrage with his insane humour regarding the lack of water for drought-hit farmers. While Ajit Pawar has issued an apology, it does not mitigate the damage already done. The question is, how can the deputy CM make such a thoughtless remark when he himself was at the helm of affairs in the irrigation department for over 10 years while the government spent over Rs70,000 crore to increase the state’s irrigation potential by mere 0.1%?

 

The insane remark has even forced the NCP chief to tender an apology on behalf of his deputy CM—strangely enough on social media, which allows only 149 characters to express regret. Sharad Pawar, on twitter, said, “I duly apologise on the behalf of Deputy CM of Maharashtra for the unwanted comment that he had made.” However, this is not the first time, the NCP chief has to apologise for his nephew. But more about it later.

 

On Saturday, while speaking at a public function at Nimboli near Indapur, the junior Pawar, had said, “There is this person, Deshmukh from Solapur, who is on hunger strike for 55 days demanding to release water from Ujani dam. When there is no water in the dam, from where we are going to release (the water)? Should we urinate?”

 

The person, Ajit Pawar referred in his speech is Bhaisaheb Deshmukh from Solapur who is sitting on protest for over 55 days at Azad Maidan in Mumbai demanding release of water from Ujani dam for the nearby villages.

 

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has alleged that while villagers are denied water from the Ujani dam, the same is being provided to Dynamix Dairy, a company owned by a family considered close to Sharad Pawar, and to sugar mills controlled by leaders from the NCP and Congress.

 

Ujani dam, created by the 185 ft high earth-cum-concrete gravity dam on the Bhima river in Solapur district has an annual utilisation capacity of 580 cubic metre (cu mi) with a catchment area of 14,850 sq km. Water supplied from the reservoir for irrigation in agricultural areas was primarily aimed at reducing incidence of famines and scarcity during drought conditions. However, due to political interference and increased water supply to sugar mills, the conditions have become adverse leaving lakhs of people without drinking water.

 

The primary reason for acute water shortage is increased cultivation of sugar cane, especially in drought-affected areas. On an average, sugar cane requires 1.8 lakh litres of water per acre for one crop cycle. Similarly, sugar mills need 354.34 cu mi of water from crushing 1,000 metric tonnes of sugar cane.

 

The catchment area of Ujani dam witnesses an average rainfall of 700 mm per year, which is more suitable for crops like jowar (millet) and groundnut. The storage created by the Ujani Dam has resulted in the irrigation of 500 sq km, particularly in Solapur district, resulting in doubling the yield of jowar and tripling the yield of groundnut.

 

However, due to the increase in number of sugar mills in the region, especially those set up by politicians, this picture has now changed. Out of the total 160 sugar mills in Maharashtra, there are 16 mills in Pune district and 18 in Solapur district and almost all of them are related with or controlled by politicians, especially from the NCP and Congress, both ruling parties in the state.

 

Coming back to Ajit Pawar's crass speech, it did not stop with urinating for water—he also linked the growing population to increased copulation due to power shortages and load shedding. He said, “I have also come to know that since there is load shedding (power cuts) in the state, the population is increasing. Due to lack of electricity, people have nothing else to do.”

 

However, after nationwide horror and outrage at the insensitivity of the remarks and strident calls for his resignation, Ajit Pawar tendered an apology. In a statement issued on Sunday evening, he said, “The statement… was not about the drought-affected people, but if I have hurt the feelings of people, I apologise with humility.”

 

Opposition parties criticised Ajit Pawar’s comments. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded his resignation, Uddhav Thackeray, chief of the Shiv Sena, asked Sharad Pawar and Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to remove the junior Pawar from the state Cabinet.

 

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, while speaking in a public meeting at Jalgaon, said, “How can the deputy chief minister use such dirty language about the people of this state? When people are suffering in drought, he had no shame in showing any responsibility and instead is using such a foul language.”

 

In a statement, AAP, said, “His (Ajit Pawar’s) statements show his true face…a corrupt politician who has no empathy for the citizens and to have such a man at a leadership role in disaster for the state. What is even more shocking is that his statements were met with laughter from the NCP spectators. After holding the irrigation portfolio and spending Rs77,000 crore, he dares to ask where should he get the water from?”

 

The irrigation scam

Last September, the Economic Survey made an observation stating that though Rs70,000 crore had been spent on various projects during the last decade, Maharashtra's irrigation potential had increased by just 0.1%. Interestingly, the irrigation portfolio (now known as water resources ministry) has been held by the NCP since 1999, by Ajit Pawar till 2009 and after that by Sunil Tatkare, a close associate of the junior Pawar.

 

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had already begun a probe into the decisions taken by the irrigation ministry during that period.

 

Earlier in February 2012, Vijay Pandhare, chief engineer from the irrigation department and a member of the state level technical advisory committee, wrote a letter to authorities pointing out the gross irregularities. In an explanatory letter in May, Pandhare pointed out that Rs12,000 crore spent on lift irrigation projects in the state are a total waste as around 99% of the total 227 projects in Maharashtra are not working and 90% never began functioning.

 

In 2009, 32 irrigation projects worth Rs20,000 to Rs25,000 crore were cleared by Ajit Pawar, the then irrigation minister of Maharashtra allegedly without following the procedures. Clearances to projects include Krishna Valley Development Corp in Western Maharashtra with seven dams. The cost of 38 projects in Vidarbha were increased by 300% between June and August.

 

In Vidarbha, where much of the exposed irregularities lie, the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation undertook some 320 projects since 1997. However, actual increase in irrigated area till March 2011 has been just 26,000 hectares (ha) against the targeted 1.58 million ha, according to the state water resources department.

 

In Vidarbha, the cost of the Gosekhurd project, the largest in Maharashtra, increased at the rate of Rs1.19 crore per day. It shot up 36.52 times in 29 years to Rs13,596 crore. The cost of the Lower Painganga project in Yavatmal district also escalated at a rate of Rs1.9 crore per day. In Washim district, also the cost of 11 barrages went up to Rs40-Rs50 crore each in 2009 from an estimated cost of Rs7-Rs8 crore a year ago.

 

AAP founder Arvind Kejriwal has alleged that business interests of Nitin Gadkari, former president of BJP, were hurting interests of farmers in Vidarbha region. Alleging a nexus between Ajit Pawar and Gadkari, the AAP founder said, the then BJP president sought and secured 37 ha land that was acquired by Maharashtra government for a dam but not used. The land was allotted by Ajit Pawar, who was the irrigation minister then, Kejriwal said.

 

The controversy raised by communications send by Pandhare caused Ajit Pawar to resign as deputy chief minister in September 2012. However, within few months, he was back in the cabinet as deputy chief minister.

 

Apologies from Sharad Pawar

Earlier also NCP chief Sharad Pawar had tendered an apology over Ajit Pawar’s allegedly use of abusive language about journalists. “As party chief, I won’t have qualms about offering a public apology. Here, if language of force has been used, I have no problem in (tendering) apology,” he had said.

 

In February 2011, while speaking at a function in Nanded district, Ajit Pawar had accused journalist of fabricating stories and criticised media for allegedly indulging in untruths and half-truths and suggested a gag on those indulging in such methods, which led to the controversy. This led to media boycotting coverage of functions including Ajit Pawar and Maharashtra CM Chavan.

Comments
Sonam Pawar
4 years ago
How can they do this?
Ashok Kumar Rastogi
9 years ago
Policticans are there where ever crony capital exist. NCP is news for corruption whether it is real estate or irrigation are water theft.
NSriramamurty
9 years ago
All States in South India are Constructing Dams at Huge Price Escalations/Cost overruns,eventhough Water is not There for Existing Dams also and Unable to Release Water therefrom for Drinking/ Farming Purposes and Fights agist neighbour Sates for Water Release/ Not Increasing Dam's Heights. Cetre Has to LINK all Rivers in India , so that Surplus Water In Northern India is not Wasted into Seas.Within the Amount Spent by all States on Dams ,Linkage of all RIVERS can easily be Done.
Ubaldo C DSouza
Replied to NSriramamurty comment 9 years ago
Mr. Sriramamurty: You think they do not know all that you have said? And if they took it all into account, how would they loot the national and state coffers? But it is the brazen insolence that hurts.
ABHA CHAWLA MOHANTY
9 years ago
POWER CORRUPTS.....ABSOLUTE POWER,,,,,,,LIVING EXAMPLE...WITHOUT PREJUDICE....
Ubaldo C DSouza
9 years ago
Only nepotism in the Maratha satraps stable could have spawned insolent progeny capable of such thought and language. If I could match his language, I would have told him where to pee!
jaideep shirali
9 years ago
The framers of our Constitution gave the legislatures and bureaucracy so much unchecked power, that the citizens are now reduced to onlookers without any effective form of protest. The Pawars deserve the curses of not just every drought affected, but every resident of the state. As for the legislatures as a whole, the recent Mumbai episode shows us the law-makers in their true light and the pride of the legislature, whatever that now means.
Sai Gopal
9 years ago
Good article
Vineeth A Kumar
9 years ago
that's what i call a scam, with each breaking scam news almost everyday from 1st Jan 2013 - with ZERO prosecution, i feel the judicial community is in love with scam makers. the paid media has already been found to share a room love-hate relationship.

there is only one option for a 21st Century product - JOIN THE SCAM...all the others will be in love with you...crap...!

are there any investigative journalists out there to expose an industry, which has sucked the blood of common man for 60 plus years..i can give you tangible proofs...if you have the "GUTS"come forward...rather than posting a flash news in the name of journalism. anybody out there to take it to the end...leave a message, i will contact you...
NSriramamurty
Replied to Vineeth A Kumar comment 9 years ago
Yours Statement is Unbelievable.Now Courts are taking up such Cases SUO MOTO also. If you have Proof,you can simply write a latter to High Court Cheief Justice ,Requesting it be taken as PIL and HCs happily allows them and ask CBI to investigate.HC also is asking CBI,if it does not do its Work Properly,threatening them on Contempt of Court.For Every Indian Getting Proof is only Highly Difficult task,Preventing them from filing PILs.After Anna Hajare's Movement Last year and CAG bringing out many Scams,ofcourse which are Closed simply by Politicians in their Selfish Skin Saving efforts,Many Educated Indians Blood is Boiling at things Happenings.In AP,simply a Letter to HC by Mr.Shankar Rao's has Opened Pandora Box and Many IAS/IPS Officers,Ministers are going Behind Bars in Quid PRO Quo case agaist Mr.Jagan Mohan Reddy.
So Kindly Write a Letter to Concerned States HC or put them Here,so that Other Indians will Take up.Mr.Arun Kejrival is Lamenting for not able to get Proof for Scams Brought out By Him.
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