The Maharashtra government has for the first time imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in Latur as a preventive measure to tackle violence over water distributed by government tankers.
“People were creating trouble at the filling and distribution points, and hence the collector imposed section 144,” Dnyaneshwar Chavan, the superintendent of police in Latur, said.
Chavan said the government has acquired nearby wells and tube-wells so that the residents can get water. “We can understand that there is a shortage of water, which is because of a drought. So we have to tackle the situation peacefully,” he said.
Water is supplied through tankers once a week to residents of Latur, one of the worst drought-hit districts in the Marathwada region.
Section 144 is being administered in 6 areas of Latur. Minister of State Home Ranjit Patil said measures are being taken to control the water crisis arising because of the ground water level that has gone down.
A local resident said they are now depending on the bore-wells and wells in the adjoining areas, but the supply of water is insufficient to meet their demand.
Ashok Chavan, the president of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, said that the situation is getting worse, yet, this BJP government is taking things so casually. He said instead of providing water to the people, the government has imposed section 144.
In the Marathwada region the drought has been causing a massive agricultural crisis as well. Between January and December 2015, 3,228 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra, including 1,536 in Vidharbha and 1,454 in Marathwada.