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Cong plans meet on water resources

After scuttling the NCP’s attempt to bulldoze the water resources Bill that had sought to increase the powers of its minister to distribute dam waters

Written by Rakshit Sonawane | Mumbai |
April 30, 2011 3:27:38 am

After scuttling the NCP’s attempt to bulldoze the water resources Bill that had sought to increase the powers of its minister to distribute dam waters,the Congress plans a conclave of its leaders to work out a detailed policy on the issue.

The conclave will be held in Yavatmal on May 17 and Congress leaders,especially legislators and ministers from Vidarbha,are expected to participate in it. Besides,Union Minister for Water Resources Salman Khursheed will address the conclave. A senior Congress minister said the meeting would give shape to a policy on distribution of water resources and ensure the development of backward regions like Vidarbha.

The Congress had created a furore after the controversial Bill piloted by Water Resources Minister Sunil Tatkare (NCP) — a protégé of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar — was bulldozed in the thinly attended Assembly in the dead of the night on April 13. Subsequently,when the Bill was introduced in the legislative council,the Congress had suggested amendments and returned it to the Assembly for approval. The amendments bestowed powers of water distribution to the Cabinet,not the water resources minister,thereby sabotaging the NCP’s attempt to gain total control over water resources.

“We have called it paani parishad (water conference) and we are going to discuss all aspects of water distribution,” Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Manikrao Thakre,who is from Yavatmal,told The Indian Express on Friday. “The idea is to evolve a policy in this regard… While suggesting amendments to the water resources Bill in the Council,I had asked for a white paper from the state government on water distribution… This conference would be a precursor to it.”

He pointed out that the conclave would focus in evolving a policy for distributing water in the Vidarbha region.

Incidentally,the Congress had vehemently opposed the Bill because the party has huge stakes in Vidarbha,unlike the NCP that has a negligible presence in the region and hence,has nothing to lose. Vidarbha is a stronghold of the Congress (which won 24 of the 62 Assembly seats in the 2009 polls) and the BJP (that won 21 seats). The NCP could win only four.

The Congress leaders were jittery that they would invite the wrath of farmers,their voters in the region. The NCP has a stronghold in Western Maharashtra,which happens to be the best irrigated region in the state. The Congressmen view the scuttling of the Bill as a major victory over the NCP as it was seen as a ploy to help industries in the region by diverting water meant for irrigation for industrial use.

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