Days after state rural development minister Pankaja Munde was roundly criticised for saying the supply of water to breweries and distilleries in Maharashtra’s drought-hit areas will not need to be blocked if it comes from stock reserved for them, Hindustan Times can reveal that her husband Amit Palve is the director of Radico Distillery in Aurangabad, which gets water in the Jayakwadi dam. In reality, Munde herself was on the board of directors of the distillery until July 2014, a few months before the assembly elections.
In reality, Munde herself was on the board of directors of the distillery until July 2014, a couple months before the assembly elections.
The latest controversy involving Munde comes only a day after she was criticized for tweeting an ill judged selfie during her tour of drought-stricken Latur.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Tuesday alleged that Munde said there was no demand to cease furnishing water to breweries and distilleries because of her husband’s organization with a distillery. NCP representative Nawab Malik said, “Her husband is working as a full time manager of the distillery while she was on the board of directors. As such, it was her personal interest that was behind her opposition to cutting the water supply to such industries,” Malik said. He also said that when conducting business Pankaja’s husband uses the name Amit Palwe in political circles, but goes by Charudutta Palwe. “There is something fishy in this which they must clarify,” Malik included.
State BJP representative Keshav Upadhye refused to comment on the NCP’s claim but asserted that the media had misquoted Munde. “ the media on Saturday misquoted her. She wanted to say that by not furnishing water to these industries, their business would be adversely affected and lead them to shut down, ultimately bringing residents of Osmanabad and Beed joblessness,” Upadhye said.
While virtually all political parties, such as the Shiv Sena, had said that water supply to breweries and distilleries should be stopped owing to the acute water shortage in the region, Munde had objected to the demand. She said that water reservations were broken up into three categories — water for agriculture, drinking, and industries. “Sectors get water in the stock reserved for them. There's no need to cease the supply if they're getting water from the stock that is reserved then. But if water is being used by them from the stock earmarked for drinking or agriculture afterward these units should be closed down she said. Her remarks came shortly after state water resources minister Girish Mahajan said the government was contemplating cutting on the amount of water provided to distilleries and breweries.
Munde did not respond to text messages. For now, the Aurangabad collector Nidhi Pande has visited 20% water reductions for distilleries and breweries.