It was Maharashtra’s worst drought in 40 years. For long the state had a unique water policy which gave preference to industries over agriculture. Millions of cubic meters of water meant for irrigation has been allocated for thermal power plants during these years.
Reports have now shown that a lot of this water was given to thermal power plants even during the drought, even though its was clear that drinking water is the highest priority above any other need for water.
22 May 2013
250 feet Banner on the upper Wardha dam at Morshi, Maharashtra © Greenpeace/Sudhanshu Malhotra
In effect, water that could have helped people in the drought-hit areas of Maharashtra, was allocated to industries and coal power plants.
Farmers and activists have been demanding water should be re-allocated to agriculture. In remote drought-hit villages of Maharashtra, farmers took the help of mobile phones to get their message across.
Greenpeace India's campaigner, Bhagwan Kesbhat met six sarpanch's and farmer-activist Sanjay Kolhe. He got all of them to record messages asking people to support the demand to get water back to the farmers. At the end of the message people were asked to support petition, addressed to Maharashtra's Chief Minister, Prithviraj Chavan, by pressing any digit on their cell phones. These voice messages were then sent to people in the villages, using the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system.
The response was phenomenal. 2,32,068 people from rural Maharashtra supported the petition through mobile phones. The urban parts of the state saw 23,385 people support the petition asking CM Prithviraj Chavan to give water to farmers instead of industries.