[MLA Asif Shaikh blocked Mumbai-Agra National Highway today on November 26, 2015 to protest against release of drinking water for Jalgaon from Malegaon quota. (ummid.com Photo)]
Malegaon: Drought and water crisis in North Maharashtra took a new twist on Thursday when hundreds of people in Malegaon led by local Congress MLA Asif Shaikh Rasheed blocked the Mumbai-Agra National Highway protesting against the District Collector’s order to release Girna dam drinking water from Malegaon quota and use it for Jalgaon.
Holding placards and shouting slogans against the Guardian Minister of Jalgaon Eknath Khadse, Water Resource Minister and Guardian Minister of Nashik Girish Mahajan and Jalgaon District Collector, the protesters, who also included a large number of women, sat on the Mumbai-Agra National Highway and blocked the traffic.
Normal traffic on the highway was restored only after the officials persuaded MLA Asif Shaikh to call off the stir, promising him to apprise the state government of his grievances.
“This is just a beginning. If the state government does not restore the allotted drinking water quota of Malegaon from the Girna Dam, we will stage protests even bigger than this”, Asif Shaikh said.
In a meeting presided by State Water Resource Minister and Guardian Minister of Nashik Girish Mahajan on November 23, it was decided that Malegaon will be allotted 400 MCFT drinking water from Girna Dam, a cut of 125 MCFT from the earlier quota. A final meeting in this regard was scheduled to be held on December 01, and till then it was decided to maintain status quo.
“However, totally against the decision taken in the November 23 meeting, Jalgaon District Collector on Wednesday released water from Girna Dam”, Asif Shaikh said.
“On whose orders the collector did so? Did he order release of water without the government consent?” he asked.
“Not possible. He must have followed the orders of Ekanth Khadse who is Guardian Minister of Jalgaon and Girish Mahajan who also hails from the same district”, he alleged.
“Both the ministers are hand-in-glove to deny the Malegaon drinking water from its reserved quota. It will not be tolerated”, he said.
He also said that Malegaon has already been witnessing water shortage, especially after the expansion of the city limits.
“Even then we agreed for the reduction of 125 MCFT water from the allotted 525 MCFT quota. But, the state government is diverting to other districts water from the reduced quota. Is it not back-stabbing?” he asked.
Malegaon has been allotted a quota of 525 MCFT water from Girna Dam and 300 MCFT/rotation water from nearby Chakapur Dam till now. The equation changed after the BJP came into power, when using water shortage in the state as an excuse, the government reduced the Girna Dam quota of Malegaon from 525 MCFT to 400. After Jalgaon District Collector’s order to release water, even this quota is under threat.
As per the government norms, the per capita supply of water should be 135 liters per day. The civic body records however show that people of Malegaon are getting less than 40 liters of water per capita per day.