Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar’s statement that Maharashtra has potential for 26 more Lavasas, has stirred hornet’s nest. Activists opposing Lavasa have challenged Pawar to make these 26 projects his priority and include them as his first priority into his election manifesto for assembly elections.
“If Pawar is so serious about it, he should make it the first priority in his assembly election manifesto so that people of the state will teach Pawar’s party a more stringent lesson than the Loksabha elections,” said Suniti S R, national co-ordinator of the National Alliance of People’s Movement. “We are opposing the looting of natural resources for the profiteering of a few and exploiting poor natives by acquiring their lands at throw away prices by displacing them in the name of development projects. We are questioning Pawar for anti-people policies and taking away water for the interests of the few. Pawar’s statement is nothing but testimony to the fact that he is yet to come out of feudal mentality and has forgotten that the country is democratic. Every person has a right to raise his voice against such exploitation and anti-people development,” she said.
Jal Biradari activists Sunil Joshi and Vishwambhar Chaudhari, too, were critical of Pawar’s statement made on Monday night during the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA) anniversary function.
Choudhari said that it is not surprising that Pawar had made this statement since it is a matter of his business of profiteering. He said that it was worth congratulating Pawar for this statement since it was the same Mr. Pawar who had been busy explaining he was no way connected with the project like Lavasa. Chaudhari said that taking into account Pawar’s ability to locate lands from helicopter, farmers in Maharashtra would pray that he does not fly over their lands. “Instead of advocating for more Lavasas, Pawar should first answer what is his contribution to improve hill stations like Mahabaleshwar or Panchagani set up by the British,” he said.
Pointing out that even Baramati is facing water scarcity problem, Chaudhari said, “Pawar does not have interest in government tourism sites, but is interested in such private projects for obvious reasons and hence his statement is not surprising.”
Joshi said that the real question is whether projects like Lavasa are necessary for the state. Joshi pointed out that no state including that of Kerala can have tourism as revenue generating sector and if Pawar is so concerned about harnessing tourism potential, he should have developed Konkan first where natural resources are abundant.