Union minister Radha Mohan Singh's chopper trip in Maha kicks up row

Union minister Radha Mohan Singh's chopper trip in Maha kicks up row

Union minister Radha Mohan Singh's chopper trip in Maha kicks up row

After Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh's helicopter trip in drought-hit Maharashtra kicked up a storm with a BJP worker alleging that 10,000 litres of water were used to prepare a makeshift helipad.

The matter came to light after Dayanand Nene, a BJP worker and president of the Alert Citizens Forum of India, wrote to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis urging him to put a stop to such "colossal wastage" of water during VIP helicopter visits at a time when the state in facing acute scarcity of water.

In an e-mail to Fadnavis, he said the helipad was prepared on a ground using gallons of water brought by tanker for the minister's chopper to land when Singh came to attend a programme of Gram Kisan Abhiyan in Bhiwandi on Monday.

Nene also attached photographs of the tanker spraying water on the ground, the welcome arch, the minister being received and the hoarding of the programme, and also the chopper carrying the minister making a landing.

In his letter, Nene said, "As I too am a BJP activist, I had gone there one day earlier. And what I saw was terribly disturbing. Gallons of water through tankers were being poured on a huge piece of land, which later I understood was a makeshift helipad being put in place for (Singh's) helicopter to land."

"It is estimated that over 10,000 litres of water was used for the same. On one hand, the government is trying its best to deal with the drought condition in the state. On the other hand nobody pays attention to such colossal wastage of water during official visits by VIPs."

He urged the CM to issue a directive to all as to not to use helicopters to visit places where there are no proper helipads.

"They can go to the nearest place where a helipad is available and then drive down to the site. In this case, the Minister could have flown in to Thane--where there is a proper helipad and driven down to Bhiwandi which is just 20 minutes away--and it would have saved 10,000 litres of water --very important as the entire area is reeling under a 60 per cent water cut," he said, adding that Ulhasnagar township here is doing without water since last 45 days.

Incidentally, the convenors of the programme which was attended by hundreds of farmers were BJP MP from Bhiwandi Kapil Patil and Murbad party MLA Kisan Kathore.

Last week, Eknath Khadse faced flak for taking a chopper to a village in drought-hit Latur district, leading to wastage of nearly 10,000 litre water for a special helipad. 

Meanwhile, Maharashtra BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said the water that was used to prepare the makeshift helipad was drawn from a mine and could not have been used for any other purpose.

"The water that was used for the helipad had been stored in a mine and its condition was that it could not have been used for any other purpose. The person (Nene) who has written a letter to the Chief Minister also knows the truth," he told PTI.

"Yet, facts have been twisted to garner media attention. The BJP government at the Centre and in the state is working diligently to counter the problems faced by Maharashtra due to the drought. Our opponents have no point left to criticise, so false news is being spread," he said. 

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