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As the Padayatra wends its way through the drought affected regions of Marathwada, one sees more and more misery caused by mis-management, administrative apathy and plain simple callousness. The much maligned nature has had very little to do with the fate of the people. Let us look at some of the shockers that are emerging.

Harwadi, is  middle sized village around 18 km from Latur city. It has the Manjara river flowing next to it. It is not a perennial river but it is still flowing in some stretches in January. There are a number of deep water pockets in the bed of the river. A water source close to the village… Cause for rejoicing, one would imagine… hold on that’s not so.. the reason is very simple… some planner has decreed that all the waste from Latur city should be released in this river… the outlet comes exactly opposite the well that has been dug in the river bed for supplying drinking water to Harwadi… the foul smelling water is completely unpotable and not useful for agriculture either. Water as to be supplied by tankers all round the year, irrespective of the amount of rainfall. A few bore wells in the village have also been contaminated by the waste water flowing from Latur city. A Jalswaraj project is starting in the village. What that will achieve will be determined by time… till then the travails of the villagers are to be seen to be believed.

Naigaon Mayur, in Patoda tehsil of Beed district is a village on the fringes of a Peacock sanctuary. The village is surrounded by 11 small and large lakes… that can hold water for at most one month after monsoon! Last summer a number of peacocks died, probably from thirst… A local youth group, Mayur Mitra Mandal, has been running from pillar to post trying to get the water stores rejuvenated by the administration… to no avail so far… For the last 15 days the children in the anganwadi were not getting any food… apparently the Grampanchayat ‘forgot’ to ask for provisions and the anganwadi worker claims to be helpless.. net result… children go hungry… Old timers say that the unity is the village was remarkable… till a few years ago… then politics intervened and things have never been the same again.. still the people have managed to come together, contribute money and dig 5 bore wells so that some drinking water is assured… otherwise the dependence on tankers is almost absolute….

The story coming out of Mainda in Beed is horrifying… in 1988 a big lake was dug near the village… a farmer lost 13 acres of farmland… he got a measly compensation that left him with no option but to work as a labourer to sustain his family… he has been trying to get proper compensation for the last 18 years… off late the poor man just lost hope.. he would wander around in the village muttering to whosoever was in earshot “I must end my life… what is the point of living on like this”… he did exactly that in December 2005… this news was reported in the state newspapers… the effect on government and administration…. Nothing at all…

Who is to blame for these state of affairs? Surely one can find individual erring officials / departments… however, we feel that the malaise runs deeper… it is probably connected with a lackadaisical attitude to work… a complete lack of any work ethic whatsoever… the situation is compounded by ignorance of common people and absence of fear of punitive measures in the minds of the officials responsible….

The answer to some of these issues could be an aware citizenry backed with improved and transparent systems of governance… people themselves have to feel that it is their government, they are themselves responsible for governance and the officials and leaders have to feel accountable to people… a tall ask? May be … but essential…