Sunday, 14 April 2013

Vidarbha farm widows call Ajit Pawar's fast a farce-DNA

Vidarbha farm widows call Ajit Pawar's fast a farce

DNA / Yogesh Pawar / Monday, April 15, 2013 8:00 IST
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Threaten to stage counter-fast unless action is taken against him.

Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s hope of getting off the hook for his crass toilet humour on dry dams with a well-publicised one-day fast at a memorial for Sharad Pawar’s mentor and ex-CM Yashwantrao Chavan in Karad on Sunday backfired badly.
Widows in the farmer suicide country Vidarbha have called his fast a “hoax”. Blaming him for the Rs 30,000 crore plus ‘irrigation scam’ which took their husbands’ lives, Babytai Bais – who heads the Vidarbha Farm Widows Association--said, “How can he ever atone with hands soaked in the blood of over 10,000 farmers pushed into suicide as water for crops was siphoned to industry when he was the water resources minister?”
Threatening a counter fast unless Ajit Pawar is sacked and criminal prosecution begun against him for the irrigation
scam, she pointed out, “His own party leader and the Congress are still trying to protect him. If they continue to do so, they will have to pay a heavy price in the elections.”
“He should not only be sacked but sent to a mental asylum. This man created the irrigation and water crisis in the state and now he’s rubbing salt on the farmers’ wounds. His remarks only reflect his attitude and insensitivity towards farmers.”
Kishore Tiwari of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti echoed this.
“If money was indeed given towards irrigation projects, debt-trapped Vidarbha farmers would’ve benefited and we may not have had such large-scale suicides. In this case money siphoning can be equated to large-scale murder and criminal action must be initiated against politicians like Pawar,” Tiwari said.
Many farmers’ advocacy groups in Vidarbha allege that the DCM and water resources minister Sunil Tatkare are responsible for a lot more than the multi-crore irrigation scam.
On July 1, 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced a special Rs3,750 crore relief package for Vidarbha during a visit to Nagpur. Of this amount, Rs2,800 crore was to be used to improve irrigation facilities.
“Wonder where all that money and the additional Rs30,000 crore for irrigation went? Irrigation facilities today are not any better than they were in 2006,” pointed out Tiwari.
“The neglected development of irrigation facilities in Vidarbha is a direct consequence of apathetic Western Maharashtra politicians who have controlled the state irrigation department since the formation of the state,” Tiwari said.

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