Give us water, Maharashtra villagers tell Rahul

Mumbai, April 28: Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi visited drought-hit villages of Maharashtra’s Satara district for two and a half hours Saturday but did not any announce any relief measure.

“We want water. Everything else can come later… Just give us water!” a farmer angrily told Gandhi at one of the venues where he was interacting with the villagers.

Accompanied by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre and other senior ministers and officials, Gandhi arrived in Maan, a sub-district of Satara, from Mumbai in a helicopter.

He then proceeded to Zalshi Talao, Bijwadi and Pangar, which have been reeling under drought for over 20 years.

During all meetings, Gandhi interacted with the villagers and nodded sympathetically on hearing their complaints about the water crises that hit their areas every year soon after the monsoon.

The Congress leader assured the villagers he would try to solve their problems but did not make any announcements.

He then left for Pune in the same helicopter.

Gandhi arrived in Maharashtra Friday morning and spent the day meeting Congress workers from various levels to assess the party’s standing in the state where it rules in a coalition with the Nationalist Congress Party.

Anticipating a tour by Rahul Gandhi, Chavan had visited the same drought-hit areas of Satara, his home district, and taken stock of the situation.

The water-scarce district of Satara is, ironically, where the Koyna Dam, the state’s largest water supply project and a major hydel power generator of the country, is located.

However, barely a few kilometres away from the dam, people and livestock go thirsty for water eight months a year. They depend on water tankers for drinking water or trudge long distances for potable water.

With his visit to Satara’s drought-hit areas, Gandhi became the third in his family to tour the region in the last 25 years.

In 1987, his father Rajiv Gandhi, then prime minister, toured the areas. In 2003, his mother Sonia Gandhi, the Congress party president, visited the region.

Indo-Asian News Service

–qn/sog

IANS