With its directives coming under scrutiny, the Latur district administration on Monday denied that it imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 in and around water filling points fearing law and order problem. Putting on a brave front, the administration said it was a routine order and the issue was being blown out of proportion even as it claimed that efforts are underway on war-footing to tackle the extreme water shortage situation in the district.
“We have imposed prohibitory orders as a preventive measure and not because of any law and order problem. It is a routine step and has drawn support from different quarters,” Latur district collector Pandurang Pole told The Indian Express. Pole stressed that prohibitory orders are in force only till month-end and at only six water filling points and not in the entire district.
Stating that he was not aware whether the prohibitory orders were the first such instance in Maharashtra, Pole said,”Even during polls, prohibitory orders are imposed to ensure peace. Similarly, we imposed the prohibitory orders as a preventive measure,” he said, adding that the step has received support from city’s mayor and even from the opposition parties.
Pole said the prohibitory orders have been imposed at six water filling points and not 20 as said. “These six water filling points are located on the outskirts of Latur city. The orders are applicable only to the premises of the water filling points. At these points, tankers lift water and supply to rural and urban areas,” he said. “The collector said the prohibitory orders have been imposed only at the tanker filling points and not other places like public wells or tanker routes. “The issue is clearly being blown out of proportion though it is a routine step and preventive measure,” he added.
The imposition of prohibitory orders in Latur is being seen in the light of the fears expressed by NCP chief Sharad Pawar a few months back that the drought in Maharashtra can result in law and order situation if the government does not address it properly. “The situation is exceptionally dangerous. I fear that the drought can become a law and order issue. I have not seen a situation like this in my 50 years in public life… drinking water and fodder are a big issue,” Pawar had said after touring Marathwada.
Latur’s water shortage problem escalated after the Manjargaon dam completely ran out of stock. The administration then turned to three other barrages — Dongargaon, Bandarwadi and Lower Terna located in the district. The administration Monday claimed that all the three barrages have enough water that will last till monsoon. “Though the main dam supplying water to the district has run dry, the three other water schemes have enough water that will last till monsoon,” said Pole.
“Every citizen is forced to buy water for Rs 1,000 almost every day as the water quota provided by the civic body is not sufficient to meet needs,” said Dr Kalyan Barmade of the Indian Medical Association. Besides, he said around 150 small and big hospitals in Latur had been hit hard with two major hospitals, a private and a government hospital, had to stop all surgeries because of lack of water.
The district administration Monday said it was true that Latur was facing extreme water shortage but officials said efforts are underway on war-footing to tackle the water shortage situation.
A total of 215 tankers are providing water in rural areas while over 70 tankers are doing rounds in city areas.
Besides, several private organisations are chipping in with tankers to slake the thirst of citizens, officials said.
Officials said in rural areas, 20 litre water is being provided per person. “This means a family of five gets 100 litre water every day,” said resident deputy collector Narayan Ubale. In city areas, residents get water nearly after a week which is 200 litres per family.
The district administration also emphatically denied that there was mass migration taking place from Latur. “We have no information that there was mass migration from Latur. Such reports are not true. People do migrate after exams of children get over. But since Latur is an education hub, the movement of people continues back and forth,” the district collector said.