Drought: Vikhe-Patil says stop water to industries

Agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil has urged CM Prithviraj Chavan to stop supply to the real estate sector and soft drink units until water situation in the state improves.

He said, "The first priority should be water for drinking, the second for agriculture and the third for industry." In the past week, almost 50 MLAs have urged CM to take immediate steps to restrict industrial use of water.

NCP MLAs asked water resources minister Sunil Tatkare to prevent industrial units from drawing dam backwaters. The MLAs representing Marathwada, Western Maharashtra and North Maharashtra also demanded action against units diverting water.

Vikhe-Patil said, "I am of the view that there should be a review of priorities."

To begin with, construction works should be slowed down or stopped in districts reeling from acute water shortage, he said and added, "In districts such as Pune, why allow industrial and real estate activity when we are unsure of drinking water supply for the next four months?"

Vikhe-Patil said, "The biggest casualty are farmers. We have to primarily address their concerns instead of worrying about big industries that can withstand slow pace for the next few months until the water crisis ends." While conceding that the state was in the grip of a severe drought, the minister blamed faulty policies pursued by some departments for aggravating the crisis.

Citing an example, he said, "Today, sinking water levels in Jayakwadi dam in Marathwada have raised an alarm, forcing the administration to divert water from Bhandardhara in Ahmednagar district. The panic situation has arisen as we don't have provision to put water in Jayakwadi to optimum use."

The minister said allowing industrial units to come up without making adequate provision for water had compounded the crisis.

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