Latur is one of the worst affected regions in drought-hit Maharashtra. The Centre is sending in trains full of water to satiate the thirst of the parched throats.
On Friday, Eknath Khadse, the Agriculture Minister in Devendra Fadnavis led Maharashtra government decided to take stock of one of these trains.
Khadse travelled from Latur to Belkund, only 40 minutes away by road,
But the poor minister thought ‘why bother to make an hour-long journey by car in this unbearable heat?’ and so he decided to fly.
In came a helicopter for the minister. (Any minister can get a helicopter easily.) The thing about helicopters is that they need helipads to land.
But a temporary helipad on the dry ground of a small village in Latur would mean the raising of dust that would reduce the visibility of the chopper. And how do you prevent that from happening? Pour water.
And that is what has now landed the minister in hot water.
Videos and photos taken at the time of Khadse’s arrival in Latur shows two tankers arriving at the dusty site with water.
That tankers held 10,000 litres of water, enough for an entire household.
Khadse, who also holds the Revenue and Excise portfolios, admitted on Saturday that some water had been used but claimed that 10000 litres of water may not have been used because dust actually rose when the chopper landed.
Of course, the opposition is at his throat. Congress’ state unit general secretary Sachin Sawant asked Khadse to tender a public apology for this “gross wastage of water”.
While the government is doing everything possible to provide water to the people of drought affected areas in Maharashtra, just one minister’s lack of common sense could be enough to derail the efforts.