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Apr 09, 2013 at 11:39pm IST

Maharashtra: Water from dam being diverted to mills owned by NCP leaders, allege activists

Mumbai: Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar may have admitted to making the biggest blunder of his political career over his 'urine' remark, however, residents of Patkul village in Solapur are incensed by his Marie Antoinette-like remark. "He wants us to drink urine? Is that what he is saying?" a resident asks.

With taps and water pumps here having run dry two months ago, the water tankers, sighted once in four days, is the only source of water. This daily struggle is what pushed Prabhakar Deshmukh, the farmer whom Pawar had ridiculed through his urine remark, to go on a protest fast. Deshmukh is unimpressed with Pawar's belated apology. He wants him to resign.

Deshmukh and others are demanding that water from the Ujani dam be realised through canals to their parched fields. They allege discrimination, just like many activists who claim that water from the dam is diverted to sugar mills controlled mostly by NCP leaders.

Pune and Solpaur, in fact, have the highest concentration of sugar mills. Altered cropping pattern with the focus on water-guzzling crops like sugarcane has resulted in the depletion, also depriving so many of drinking water.

Maharashtra, ironically has the largest network of dams, but have done little to mitigate the recurring drought. Little wonder then that Ajit Pawar's brand of humour has found no takers.