Polls and promises
With the Assembly elections due on October 21, Maharashtra brings forth a crucial matter of collective concern—one that is seen having a bearing in the electoral process. Although BJP and Shiv Sena have come together to contest the Assembly polls, the partners have their points of disagreement due to which there are separate manifestos for the election. BJP's manifesto has promised to provide 5 crore jobs in the next five years and houses for all by 2022 along with making Maharashtra a trillion dollar economy. Additionally, the party seek promises to seek Bharat Ratna for social activists and social reformers Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule, and Indian independence activist Veer Savarkar. Besides upgrade in infrastructure, more substantially, BJP aims to create a Rs 16,000 crore worth Marathwada drinking water grid project in the next five years if it comes to power in the state, as per its manifesto. On this account, voters express concern regarding clean water and that being an election issue. As matters stand, over the past five years, Bhandara has been pushed into using RO (reverse osmosis) systems as the water in the Wainganga river, on whose banks it is situated, is highly polluted. The pollution comes from toxic industrial effluents and sewage flow down the Nag river in Nagpur which joins the Wainganga in Bhandara. The extent of pollution is such that local residents have termed that water 'Coca Cola', which at times, flows through their taps during the monsoon. This unusable blackish fluid pumped through ageing pipelines has led to an exponential demand for RO water over the past four years. While rightfully demanding clean drinking water at the time of election can be critical to the outcome, simply meeting the demand for electoral gains has its perils too. With more RO plants coming into existence, there has been in a gradual dip in the groundwater level at Bhandara. This clearly means that RO is only a temporary solution to the problem. The poll fever may add to this but the consequences are the real matters to ponder over. Elections happen periodically but sources of water once depleted do not replenish with the same regularity.