It was a 17 minute conversation with Sambhaji Patil, first time MLA from Latur
Me: The drought is not an overnight situation, the conditions have been ignored for far too long, leading to these conditions. Why has the govt. failed to prevent the situation?
MLA: There are multiple reasons.
1) There are 10 sugar factories, most of them belonging to the previous two CM’s. The sugar factories were given permissions without the necessary support for water canals, drip irrigation, thus the ground water table got depleted. Even the drinking quota water was used for sugarcane farming
2) Sugarcane farming doesn’t use drip irrigation
3) only 1% of the land is under the forest cover.
4) Latur Municipal corporation has poor water management. There are leakages and other issues which need to be addressed
Me: What actions is the govt. taking?
1) We are planning on enforcing drip irrigation for sugarcane farmers
2) Make rain water harvesting mandatory for everyone
3) Water ponds to be used by the farmers
Me: These are long term, what is being done in the immediate short term
1) Water is being transported to Latur city (other regions in Latur don’t have acute water shortage) from places as far as 300 Kms away from Latur
2) food grains are being distributed to the people
Me: What about the minister who flew in a chopper to Latur? What was the need for the minister to make such a trip?
Actually the minister should be credited for working all the logistics from the start to finish to help transport the water. What would otherwise take 18 days, thanks to the minister, it took only 8 days for everything to come together.
Also the helipad is made of black concrete which is very low maintenance since the surface is extremely hard and doesn’t need that kind of water to maintain them.
Me: The programs such as rain water harvesting, need to save water, planting trees have to be taken up seriously by anyone. Do you plan to run any public campaigns?
Yes, the college students also showed lot of interest and would be joining in these efforts.
Me: How can individuals help?
MLA: Help with the public campaign efforts, to take the message about water and plants to the people
Me: Would you mind if I check back in a couple of weeks on how things are progressing?
MLA: Yes, absolutely.
The pace at which the greenery and the forests are being sacrificed in the name of development, it’s only a matter of time before more regions and states experience the drought situations.
May be the environment ministry should really focus on preserving the environment at all costs and may be the whole idea of smart cities should be geared towards making smart projects where people and nature can develop together