AFTER actors Nana Patekar and Makrand Anaspure set up NAAM Foundation to raise funds for drought-affected farmers in Maharashtra, another popular actor Riteish Deshmukh has stepped forward to do his bit for the people of parched Marathwada.
Riteish, son of late chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, was picked as the brand ambassador by the Art of Living Foundation, under whose aegis the people of Latur have launched a massive effort to increase the storing capacity of the Manjara river, the lifeline of Latur that has gone completely dry. Speaking to The Indian Express, he said he would put in his best efforts to ensure the success of the Jalyukt Latur campaign.
“Not only for Latur, but I will do whatever I can for the entire drought-hit Marathwada region,” added Riteish.
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He said he was still in discussion with activists about the exact nature of his role as the brand ambassador. The actor had donated Rs 25 lakh for the campaign. His brother Amit Deshmukh, who is an MLA from the region, donated Rs 75 lakh.
Mahadev Gomare of Art of Living Foundation said Riteish was expected to help raise funds for the water conservation project launched last month. “The project is worth Rs 7 crore. We are not taking any help from the government. It is entirely a people’s initiative,” he said.
The foundation has till now collected Rs 4 crore.
Gomare said they expected Riteish to raise funds from his contacts, especially in the Hindi and Marathi film industry.
Riteish said he would decide about it after holding a dialogue with the activists.
Last week, when the announcement was made regarding Riteish being made the brand ambassador, the actor visited the spot to witness the dredging work on Manjara river at Sai village and tried to understand how the project would benefit the people of Latur.
An 18-km trench is being dug in the Manjara river from Sai village to store water during monsoon. Work on nearly 3 km has been completed so far. The deadline is May-end. The NAAM Foundation launched by Patekar and Anaspure has been extending financial assistance to drought-hit farmers and also setting up water conservation projects. “We have no truck with them… they are doing it independently and so are we. Both the organisations are working for bringing relief to the parched region of Marathwada,” said Gomare.