Mumbai: Against the backdrop of reports claiming that he was in the know when water meant for irrigation was diverted to industry, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Wednesday said the priority was given to allocation of water for drinking as per the government policy.
"Government`s then policy was prioritising allocation of water for drinking, then for industry and then farmers. Around 1.5 years ago, the policy was changed to first drinking, then farmers and then industry," he told reporters outside Vidhan Bhawan here.
He was responding to the allegation that as the water resources minister and then finance minister, he chaired or partook in a high-powered committee that diverted almost 2,000 million cubic metre (mcm) of water meant for irrigation to industries.
Ajit, nephew of NCP chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, invited opprobrium for his crass "urinating-in- the-dam" statement that belittled the tragedy of Maharashtra`s farmers facing the worst drought in decades. He later apologised for his remarks.
The report said the redirection is equivalent to the storage capacity of Maharashtra`s largest dam Koyna, and reduced the state`s irrigation potential by about four lakh hectares.