What has PM Modi done to alleviate water scarcity in Maharashtra's Satara, Solapur, asks Congress

The Congress on Monday accused the BJP of ignoring the plight of thousands dealing with water scarcity in Maharashtra's Satara and Solapur, and asked what has Prime Minister Narendra Modi done to alleviate the problem.
PM Narendra Modi and Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh
PM Narendra Modi and Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh

New Delhi | The Congress on Monday accused the BJP of ignoring the plight of thousands dealing with water scarcity in Maharashtra's Satara and Solapur, and asked what has Prime Minister Narendra Modi done to alleviate the problem.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh posed questions for the prime minister ahead of his poll rallies in Solapur and Satara, and wondered whether the Rs 1,750-crore Solapur Transmission Line project was handed over to a private company in exchange for electoral bonds.

"Why are the Pune-Satara and Satara-Pandharpur highways falling apart within 2-3 years of inauguration?" Ramesh asked.

Elaborating on what he said were "jumla (rhetoric)" details, the Congress leader said the scarcity of drinking water in Satara, Sangli and Solapur is getting worse with every passing day.

"Between March and April, the requirement of tankers has increased 13% in Sangli, 31% in Satara, and 84% in Solapur. Dams, ponds and lakes in the area are drying up worryingly fast. The situation is the worst in Solapur, which has had 2 BJP MPs in the last 10 years. Water supply in the city's main source of water, the Ujani Dam, has dipped below zero, and the city is currently surviving on the 'dead storage' in the dam," he said on X.

The situation has become so bad that the Solapur Municipal Corporation has to supply drinking water on a rotational basis now, with different city areas getting water at an interval of five to eight days, he said.

In 2014 and 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Lok Sabha poll candidates from Solapur had promised to address the water woes if elected, but locals say they were hardly seen in the area after their electoral victories and never took any steps for tackling the crisis, Ramesh said.

"Why have PM Modi and the BJP ignored the plight of thousands who deal with water scarcity every day? Do they have any concrete plans to improve the situation?" he asked on the microblogging platform.

The former Union minister further said in February, the contract for the 1,500-megawatt Solapur Transmission Line project was given to a private firm by government-owned PFC Consulting.

"The revenue from this project is Rs 50 crore per year for 35 years, for a total of Rs 1,750 crore. However, the company that got this lucrative contract had donated electoral bonds to the BJP in large amounts. In January 2024, just 1 month before winning the contract, it donated Rs 50 crore to the BJP. Is this part of the Prime Minister's 'Chanda Do, Dhandha Lo' organised loot and corruption?" he asked.

Ramesh claimed that the much-awaited Pune-Satara and Satara-Pandharpur highways are falling apart within two to three years of being inaugurated.

Instead of using gravel, the contractor used cheap stones and black soil to strengthen the roads, which led to the roads developing cracks and even collapsing at some places, he claimed.

"A 65mm thick layer was required to be laid on bridge slabs but only a 25mm layer was used. Even the crossings meant to be provided for farmers' pipelines were not constructed. Given that concrete roads are meant to last for 40-50 years, local leaders have been crying foul, saying that an obviously inexperienced contractor could only have won this project through bribery," Ramesh said.

"Why has the BJP been silent on this issue, which has led to wasted public money, many avoidable traffic collisions? Is this yet another project under the PM's favourite Chanda Do Dhanda Lo scheme?" he asked.

Earlier, Ramesh posed questions for Modi ahead of the prime minister's rally in Karnataka's Bagalkote.

"Why has the Modi government failed to deliver the Bagalkote-Kudachi railway line? Why is the Modi government holding up the Upper Bhadra and Mahadayi projects? When will the PM pay Karnataka's MGNREGA workers?" he asked on X.

Elaborating on what he said were "jumla" details, Ramesh said the Bagalkote-Kudachi line of the South-Western Railway has now been delayed by more than eight years.

As of today, only 33 per cent or 46 km of the 142-km line has been completed, he said.

"Originally sanctioned in 2010-11 at an outlay of Rs 986 crore, the project has now seen its cost balloon to Rs 1,649 crore. Originally supposed to be completed in March 2016, the project is now slated for completion in 2027," the Congress leader claimed.

Despite the Karnataka government providing the land for the project for free and contributing 50 per cent of the construction cost, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre has "failed" to deliver on the project, he said.

"Why is this vital rail project facing an 11 year delay? Is it attributable to the Modi sarkar's incompetence or to its anti-Karnataka tendencies?" Ramesh asked.

He said in order to help alleviate the drought-related stress on the rural economy, the Karnataka government has sought to increase the number of working days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) from 100 to 150.

"There is a provision in the scheme to do so during periods of drought. However, the Modi sarkar has not only failed to approve the extension of the scheme, it has also failed to release Rs 1,600 crore towards the payment of wages to those working under MGNREGS," Ramesh said.

When is the Centre going to pay wages to Karnataka's MGNREGS workers, he asked.

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