Mumbai : Nearly 200 farmers and some industries in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district have been booked for alleged water theft, the police said on Sunday.
A FIR under IPC section 430 was yesterday lodged with Kopargaon city police in Ahmednagar for alleged mischief by wrongfully diverting water, against about 200 farmers and some industries in Aurangabad district.
The incident dates back to 2012 when a portion of water released from Darana and Bhandardara dams in Ahmednagar district did not reach Jayakwadi dam in Aurangabad. It was meant to be supplied as drinking water to the citizens.
Sanjay Kale, a Kopargaon-based activist, approached the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court after the local police did not entertain his complaint on the misuse of water.
“I obtained information through RTI and was shocked to see that 3.5 TMC of the six-TMC water, released from Ahmednagar district, did not reach Jayakwadi dam in Aurangabad. It was released in October 2012 due to the acute water shortage in central Maharashtra. It clearly means that water was lifted from the river bank without due permissions from the authorities concerned.
“I started following it up with police officers, including the then Ahmednagar SP, but nobody took me seriously,” Kale told PTI.
“Hence, I filed a writ petition before the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court where the reports submitted by the state Irrigation department were discussed and the court directed the police to lodge a complaint,” he said.
Kopargaon city police Inspector Suresh Shinde told PTI, “The case has been filed against approximately 200 farmers and some industries. But, the actual theft has taken place in Aurangabad district, near Paithan town. Hence, we will hand over the case to Paithan police station which will further investigate it.”
“The amount of water stolen is 3.5 TMC which is generally sufficient for irrigation of sugarcane crops in over 7,000 acres. Sugarcane is a water intense crop and it is not largely cultivated in Aurangabad,” an expert on water management told PTI on condition of anonymity.
“When it comes to other crops such as tur and soya bean, the 3.5 TMC water could have been useful for 9,000 acres. And, 200 farmers cannot lift water on their own because you need a huge machinery for the lifting of so much water. The illegal lifting must have been done by the industries because they have high-capacity water lifting machinery,” he alleged.
“This could be the first such incident in the last few decades when a case has been registered in the state with regard to water theft. I hope, the authorities will take a firm stand and prohibit such incidents in the future,” the expert said.
“There must have been incidents of water theft earlier as well, but this could be the first case where some legal action is taking place. It is a welcome decision. Water usage has to be judicious,” he added.