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HC seeks government statement on water use for ‘shahi snaan’

The Bombay High Court has sought a statement from Maharashtra government on Tuesday assuring that it will not use water from lakes and river for ‘shahi snaan’ (royal bath) on September 25 at Trimbakeshwar.

A division bench of Justices AS Oka and VL Achliya was hearing a petition filed by HM Desarda, a professor from Pune, seeking quashing of the state government’s decision to release one TMC water for every ‘shahi snaan’ as the state is reeling under a drought-like situation.

“What is the legal justification for what you (government) have done? The government has a policy which categorises its priority list as regards supply of water. As per the policy, supply of water for drinking purposes comes first and supply of water for such ‘shahi snaan’ purposes comes in the last and fourth category,” the court said.

“You (government) make a statement that no water will be used from lakes or rivers for the ‘shahi snaan’ to be held on September 25 in Trimbakeshwar,” the court said.

Government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani informed the court that the state had released only one TMC water during the ‘shahi snaan’ held on September 18. He added that no water will be released from Gangapur dam for the next ‘shahi snaan’ to be held on September 25.

The government in an affidavit filed on Monday told the court that the Kumbh Mela is being held for 12 years and is a religious and national event which includes taking ‘shahi snaan’ in the Godavari river.

The high court had on the last hearing come down heavily on the government for releasing two TMC (thousand million cubic) dam water for the ‘shahi snan’ held on September 13.

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