MUMBAI: Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray has pulled up his party ministers for "not doing enough to help" people affected by water crisis in Marathwada region and asked them to "gear up" by visiting the drought-hit areas.
According to a senior Sena leader, Thackeray "fired" his party ministers at his residence 'Matoshree' on Tuesday for "not doing enough to help people affected by water crisis."
"Uddhavji has instructed party leaders to push Shiv Jal Kranti Yojana (Water Revolution Scheme) across the Marathwada region and has also decided to tour the region in the second week of this month," the leader said. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is on a tour of Marathwada and is visiting drought-affected villages. He had also announced holding of a Cabinet meeting at Aurangabad this month, but the date is yet to be finalised.
Other BJP ministers, including Pankaja Munde and Babanrao Lonikar, have accompanied the CM on his visit to Aurangabad, Beed and Osmanabad districts. Reportedly upset with the absence of party ministers in the drought-hit regions of the state, Thackeray had called Sena ministers to 'Matoshree' on Tuesday late evening. "We have worked much more in the Marathwada region. But, today an image has been created that the Sena has ignored farmers," the leader said.
Meanwhile, senior Sena leader and state Industries Minister Subhash Desai said that all works being implemented in the drought-hit regions, including the 'Jalyukt Shivar', were schemes of the state government. "In the meeting with Uddhavji, it was decided to implement the party's own Shiv Jal Kranti scheme in Aurangabad and Jalna in the first phase. In the second phase, we will cover all eight districts of Marathwada region," Desai said.
Santosh Bhambare, former Sena legislator from Jalna district, created more than 30 bandharas (small dams) last year, which held water till February this year, he said. Sitting party legislator Arjun Khotkar too is creating around 80 bandharas in his constituency in the same district, he said.
"Both experiments have been so successful, that while Jalna was facing acute water crises in April-May, farmers are now fetching water from wells and hand pumps in villages where dams have been created," he said. Desai said that the Sena chief has donated Rs 2 crore for Shiv Jal Kranti scheme from the money earned by selling his photographs.
"The corporate sector is ready to donate huge sums and legislators will use their funds for the purpose," he said. "We have chosen villages where state's Jal Yukt Shivar is not being implemented," the minister said. Thackeray is scheduled to visit villages in Aurangabad and Beed districts on September 11 and 12 respectively, the party said.