Ajit Pawar further loses face as HC orders release of water into dam

Ajit PawarFarmer Prabhakar Deshmukh of Solapur, on a fast in Mumbai since two months protesting the lack of water in the Ujani dam, has had the last laugh over Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, who had mocked Deshmukh in the crudest terms last week.

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday ordered the state government to release water into the Ujani Dam immediately as Solapur is reeling under drought. The order makes Pawar's suggestion - for which he had to abjectly apologise - that the only way he could fulfil Deshmukh's demand was by urinating in the dam, look even more pathetic.

Ujani dam While hearing a public interest litigation (PIL), the court ordered the Maharashtra government to release water within 24 hours into the dam, which supplies Solapur - one of the most badly drought-hit districts in western Maharashtra.

Prabhakar Deshmukh, who had earlier moved his protest to the chief minister's house, was elated by the court order.

"Ajit Pawar, now there is no need to urinate. God has spoken through the high court. He has blessed us. Now Ujani dam will have water," he told NDTV.

The court's order came in response to a PIL filed independently by a Solapur-based activist, Shankarrao Sathe. The PIL says that the Ujani dam gets water from the Bhima River which starts from Karjat in the Western Ghats. Between the source of the river and the dam, there are 20-22 smaller dams, most of them in Pune district.

In violation of Maharashtra's water regulatory laws - which state that water should be equally distributed - the smaller dams were not releasing water downstream to the Ujani Dam, the PIL said.

Without naming anyone, it alleged that "powerful politicians" were "diverting" water to Pune district - the Pawar family's political bastion.

Relieved by the order, Sathe said, "This decision is 100 per cent correct. For the past six months farmers and the public have been crying out for water."

The court has also asked the government to submit a report on Monday.