Maharashtra minister accused of wasting water for helipad in parched Latur

Latur (Maharashtra) : While the Indian Railways is trying to quench the thirst of parched Latur, state Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse came under fire on Friday for allegedly permitting wastage of thousands of litres of water to prepare a helipad for his flying visit to the drought-hit district.

Khadse was in Latur to take stock of the daily “Water Train” which has been supplying around 5.50 lakhs water daily for the thirsty people of the district, and later, he was scheduled to attend a function in Belkund village, around 37 km away – ironically to inaugurate a new water supply system.

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Instead of making the hour-long drive in the 42 degrees Celsius heat, he decided to hop onto a helicopter for the function.

Accordingly, a temporary helipad was prepared on the outskirts of the small village with a population of around 3,000.

Local television showed at least two water tankers that were brought to wet the helipad, make the landing area firm and also ensure that dust was prevented from rising when the chopper landed.

Though Khadse admitted that some water may have been used to prepare a firm landing pad, he stoutly denied that water wasted, but the move attracted criticism from various quarters.

Congress’ state unit general secretary Sachin Sawant attacked Khadse and demanded to know what was the need to waste precious water when he could have easily travelled by road.

“Khadse should tender a public apology for this gross wastage of water when the Indian Railways are making so much efforts to supply water to Latur. Instead, he could have easily travelled by road and taken 15-20 minutes extra,” he said.

He added that this incident proves that the current BJP-led government is still flying high in the air with little knowledge of the ground realities of the people, and the same people will bring it down to earth.