Eknath Khadse, Pankaja Munde prove that VIP 'drought tours' are a waste of time
Khadse and Munde's tours of drought-affected region resulted in no new findings that will help in solutions being implemented quickly.
It is high time that very important people (read politicians) stop going on tours of Marathwada. These tours are ostensibly meant to study the acute water shortage but if they have thrown up any new findings, it is that the politicians are adept at making fools of themselves.
Two names come quickly to mind: Eknath Khadse and Pankaja Munde. Khadse's helicopter trip led to thousands of litres of water being used to keep the dust down on his helipad while Munde took selfies during her tour.
Khadse justified his trip by saying that using the chopper saved time. In that case, where was the need for him to actually alight as he would have got a far better view of all the affected spots from the air? If time was such a concern, then he could have chosen to video conference instead. He would have saved the time taken to travel to the Raj Bhawan to board the chopper.
Khadse claimed that the water used on his helipad was non potable – the same argument the BCCI put forth regarding holding IPL matches in drought-hit Maharashtra, an argument for which the Bombay High Court gave them a rap on their knuckles. Just goes to show that authorities, typified here by Khadse, don’t care much for the courts or public opinion.
Munde’s selfies with dried-up lakes prove that her tour has not sensitised her to the gravity of the drought situation. She asserted that water meant for industries could continue to flow to the breweries because industries have their allocations. But what happens when people don’t get enough water to drink even during normal times?
Munde’s excuse for her selfies is that she was taking photos to show how the drought has affected the region. In which case, as anyone with a smartphone knows, the camera must be aimed at the affected area - the subject of the photo - and not at the person shooting the photo. The lady ought to know that her argument can be categorised as bunkum. The irony here is that she is the minister for water resources.
The people are forgiving, and that is the problem. They forgive not just these VIPs but also the brazen stealing of water from right in their midst by others with political clout. Tolerance, verging on a fatal acceptance of their situation, is at the heart of it all – something the politicos exploit to their advantage. They know India would never have its Arab Spring.
After initial assessments of the scarcity conditions, law makers need not visit villages and talukas. All they need to do is ensure that solutions are quickly found and implemented. The only benefit of a tour so far has been the water train to Latur, but similar conditions in other parts of the region haven’t led to similar solutions.
If the state was really focussed on solving the problem, then DNA's report from a few days ago would have resulted in some action. The publication reported that in Latur, two VIPs were receiving a lot of water: BJP MLA Subhash Deshmukh and local legislator Amit Deshmukh, son of late Vilasrao Deshmukh. Other media reports too have enough graphic detail for the government to issue memos correcting the situation. Yet, the government has stayed silent on catching culprits.
Larger-scale efforts to spread water more equitably have been uneven. Along the Deschutes River, where every drop is accounted for, many farmers worry that if they lease their water rights, even temporarily, they may not get them back
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India needs to be an equal partner on a host of other responses – not the least among them is our Co-Win software. In this situation, Britain can antagonise India at its own peril. And the ramifications of it will not be restricted to the Covid response alone.