Jain Tirthankar Mahavir festival

Recently, the news highlighting the release of 200 million cubic feet of water from the Panchna Dam for a religious ceremony stirred up a controversy in Rajasthan with the opposition and media criticizing Rajasthan government for misuse of Mukhyamantri Jal Swavlamban Yojana. The occasion is ‘Kailash Abhishekh’, that will be held 34 kilometer downstream on Gambhir River in Karauli. The haters tried to corner Rajasthan government saying why did it release the conserved rainwater when they could have easily constructed ponds or simply used 4-5 tankers for this job. They used ‘Rajasthan’s water deficiency’ as a weapon to target state government.

To find the exact reason behind this controversy, we dug up some facts and came to a logical conclusion. It’s a no-brainer that Rajasthan experiences water-deficiency during summer, but the state government doesn’t believe it otherwise.

The release of water is a sensitive issue for the villagers who need water for their 20-minute long Mahaveerji fair. This religious ceremony is conducted annually and the government (which includes both BJP and Congress) has allowed the release of water for this occasion since 2009. Records state that from 2009 to 2011, the Congress government has released 2269.8 million cubic feet water from the dams, the highest is 690 million cubic feet, which was released by Congress in 2010. Compared to it, 200 million cubic feet seems a small number. Knowing this, it’ll be stupid of Congress supporter to raise question on the ruling BJP’s activities.

Besides, the Mahaveerji festival is held in honor of 24th Jain Tirthankar Mahavir festival in March or April. There’s a fair held in Chandan Gaon (located at a distance of 29km from Karauli).  The fair features a Rath Yatra (chariot procession) that involves the Gujjars and the Meenas who move the chariot from one point to another. Since the ceremony involves the minor (Jain), SBC (Gujjars) and the Meenas (OBC) communities, denying them water in the name of religion can cause social controversies.

In 2016, a former legislator named Rohini Kumari suggested the digging of temporary ponds for the ceremony so that government doesn’t have to release dam water. The idea, though practical, was turned down because due to intense climatic conditions, the water present in ponds is drastically hot and it can’t be used for the ceremony. Moreover, a lot of efforts and money are wasted in arranging tankers. Therefore, considering all these reasons, it’s best to release water from the dam. Knowing that Karauli and Bharatpur etc. are flood-prone areas, this loss can be easily made up during the monsoons.

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