Water crisis terrible, cooperation necessary: Pawa
Mumbai: Terming the water-crisis in Maharashtra as "terrible", Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Sunday appealed to the people to cooperate and share water.
"I want to appeal to the people of Maharashtra that as water-crisis is terrible, water should be judiciously used. At one point, people will have to share water in villages. Therefore, being patient, people should cooperate with each other," Pawar told reporters.
The NCP chief said in 1972, when the state suffered its worst drought since Independence, water shortage was not an issue.
"In 1972, shortage of foodgrains was felt tremendously. Foodgrains had to be imported from abroad. Now we have sufficient foodgrains. However, this time there is no water. We cannot bring water from elsewhere," he said.
As many as 2,136 water tankers have been pressed into service to supply water to 1,163 drought-affected villages, he said.
Pawar said a team from the Centre has visited the drought-affected regions and he will soon receive a report from them.
"Recently, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh decided to increase the remuneration to the MGNREGA workers from Rs 145 to Rs 162," Pawar said.
Works under MGNREGA will be extended till June-end or till the monsoon begins, he said.
Pawar also said the demand to increase the amount given to the cattle camps was placed before the Central team.
There are a total of 4,52,000 animals in 553 cattle camps in the state, he said, adding that NGOs should adopt some of these camps to save the animals.
He also reminded that political parties had come together to deal with the drought in 1972.
"It is the Opposition's right to criticise the government. However, the situation is terrible this time and we should help each other keeping aside the political differences," he added.
Commenting on the reported demand by NCP vice-president Vasant Vani, that the party will contest 145 out of the 288 seats in the 2014 Assembly elections, Pawar said that it is not the party's official stand.
"It is not our official demand. Someone enthusiastically said it," Pawar remarked.
He also said the NCP had never said it will contest the elections alone.