Mumbai: Even as Marathwada is witnessing one of the worst droughts and places like Latur and Beed are said to be badly hit, probe by a media house has revealed some shocking details.
As per an investigation by India Today, water tankers meant for the people are being sold to businessmen for profit and has been authorised by local administrative officers.
The report said that reporters, posing as businessmen wanting to set up an industry in the area, met Gopal Gurkhade, the Sabhapati of Beed municipal council.
Gurkhade was told that they would need 2-3 tankers of water everyday.
The reply they got was - "No issues, our work will continue throughout the year. If the rainfall is good, you won't need any tankers."
When told that the "condition will be like this for two more months", Gurkhade said, "Don't worry, we will provide you 'full' water, as much as you want. See, you the situation here. It's a bit 'tight'. You'll get a tanker for Rs 2,000... 12,000-litre tanker..."
Gurkhade added, "Use it wherever you want, we will provide you the tanker within 10km of Beed, wherever you need it."
And so the media house's reporters struck the following deal - Rs 6,000 for 36,000 litres water every day.
On top of it, Gurkhade also offered protection from police and uninterrupted power supply for the factory.
Then the investigating team met officers of Beed's Panchayat Samiti which manages the flow of water tankers to the region's villages.
Lakshmikant, the Panchayat officer and Ghyasuddin Zuberi, the man who handles all the accounts of the tankers met the team at their hotel.
When said that 2-3 tankers of 12,000 litre capacity would be needed daily, Zuberi said, "You be assured. Will give you more, not less," and Lakshmikant added, "Tankers will operate at night. Though these tankers are being operated by the administration, there will be no identification plate on them. Tankers will come, unload water at your site and leave."
Next day the two met the reporters again to discuss money which was decided at Rs 2,000 per tanker or Rs 4,000 per day.
Lakshmikant told them, "You can pay us once every eight days."
Thus, sadly, water meant for Beed's parched villagers was sold (apparently) to construct a factory.