Manmad (Maharashtra): Hundreds of locals, traders, teachers, students and politicians cutting across party lines Thursday protested against acute water shortage and other burning issues facing the famous Railway Junction town Manmad - some 280 kms from state capital Mumbai.
Holding black flags and sporting same color badges on shoulders, the locals marched on streets under the banner of 'Me Manmadkar', slammed the government apathy and warned if their demands are not met within the next one and half month, they will observe August 15 as 'Black Day'.
August 15 is celebrated in India as Independence Day.
"We are provided drinking water after every 18-20 days. The basic infrastructure in the town is totally collapsed. We won't tolerate anymore if something is not immediately done to improve the situation", Santosh Baburao Balid, Shiv Sena House leader in the civic body, said.
Shiv Sena is part of the BJP led alliance government in Maharashtra.
Balid however accused the government of double standard and step-motherly attitude towards constituencies represented by MLAs other than the BJP.
He said the minister concerned had sanctioned the renovation of all landmarks in the town, but the project is delayed because of the lackluster attitude of the bureaucracy.
He also said that the town is facing water shortage since last more than a decade and despite proper representations made to the state government no action has been taken to resolve the issue.
“Water from Nashik district is supplied to neighbouring districts Jalgaon, Ahmednagar and Aurangabad. But, the people who have the first right on the water which is going to other districts are denied their rights”, Santosh Balid said.
Manmad, famous for its railway junction and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) headquarter is since last many years reporting water scarcity. It is claimed that many people working here have shifted to Nashik Road and other nearby areas, and travelling to Manmad everyday by trains.
Residents alleged that due to so many small dams built on the cannel that supplies water to the Wagdardi dam, a massive amount of water was stolen before reaching the dam. They also alleged that water released from Palkhed Dam too is stolen and taken away by farmers before it reached the town.
“An estimated 1000 MCFT water is released from Palkhed dam to Manmad. But only 15 MCFT of water actually reaches the town”, said Balid.
Besides others, Raja Bhau Aher of Republican Party of India (RPI), Ravindra Ghodchare of the Congress Party, Bablu Patil and Ganesh J of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Kanti Chobe of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) also addressed the protesting locals.