42 M'rashtra villages pin water hopes on merger with State

Water shortage forces them to renew demand

In a significant political development, 42 villages from the Jath taluk of Sangli district have shot off a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis seeking no-objection certificate for their renewed demand of merger with neighbouring Karnataka as they have been reeling under severe water shortage for decades now.

On Saturday, under the banner of Taluka Pani Sangharsha Samiti (TPSS), Umadi, the villagers met in Jath taluk and discussed the issue of water shortage.
Besides Fadnavis, they have also initiated correspondence with the Karnataka government. They have also written letters to Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari.

This is not the first time that such a demand has come from this western Maharashtra taluk, but this time around, the villagers appear to be firm on their demand. Jath taluk borders Belagavi and Vijayapura districts of Karnataka-and has aspeakinga large Kannada-a a Kannada-speaking population and is drought-prone.

“We have been facing a severe problem. The government is aware of the issue. For the last two decades, we have been raising the issue, however, it remains unsolved,” TPSS president Sunil Potdar said.

The villagers point out that people in villages in Karnataka on the other side of the boundary, just a few km away, are getting water. 

“There the villagers are getting water, but we are reeling under severe shortage. Womenfolk have to walk several kilometres to get water”.

Fadnavis, who was in Dhule in North Maharashtra to review water projects, however, said that his government had launched a campaign Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan.
“Results of united efforts will be visible in a few months, after the monsoon,” the chief minister said.

As part of the campaign, the BJP-Shiv Sena government has undertaken an ambitious task of making 25,000 villages drought-free in five years – 5,000 villages every year. This involves, among other things, construction of cement nullah bunds and plantation of trees to stock water and enhance ground recharge.

Vilasrao Jagtap, BJP MLA from Jath, told Deccan Herald that the government was trying to address the issue.

“It is true that a meeting of villagers was held where they have renewed their demand. For several decades, this issue has been there. There have been questions on this in the Maharashtra legislature,” he said. Jagtap said that in the ensuing monsoon session of the Vidhan Sabha, he would try and fix up a meeting of the villagers with Fadnavis and Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan.

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