Maha minister blames crabs for Tiware dam breach, NCP calls for their ‘arrest’

MAHARASHTRA : Maharashtra minister Tanaji Sawant has blamed crabs for weakening the wall of Tiware dam in Ratnagiri district, which claimed the lives of 18 people, prompting the Opposition NCP to call the remark “height of brazenness”.

Calling the dam breach incident a “natural calamity”, the newly-appointed Water Conservation Minister also said whatever was destined to happen, would happen.

“The wall was weakened by a large number crabs and after it was pointed out to the government officials, some remedial measures were taken up. The SIT appointed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will come up with its findings soon and we will come to know what exactly went wrong,” Sawant told reporters.

Several houses in Chiplun taluka of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra were swept away when the wall of the Tiware dam breached Tuesday night following heavy rain over the last 48 hours.

The Tiware dam, located off the Karad-Chiplun Road, had undergone major repairs just two months ago but around 5 pm Tuesday a minor irrigation tank, constructed only in 2004, started leaking again. Amid the incessant rain, the dam breached around 9.30 pm, flooding seven villages downstream.

Alleging that Sawant was “blaming crabs to save a big corrupt fish”, NCP said it bid to protect local Shiv Sena MLA Sadanand Chavan, who according to media reports, happens to be a contractor of the dam.

On Friday, NCP workers, led by party general secretary Jitendra Awhad, walked into the Naupada police station with crabs and urged the cops to “arrest” them.

“Don’t blame crabs as you defend a big corrupt fish. A judicial probe must be carried out into the entire episode and the guilty MLA must be punished,” NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said.

Lashing out at Sawant, senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar asked why did the Shiv Sena leader accept the charge of a minister if he were to blame animals for a tragedy. “When will the BJP-Shiv Sena ministers accept their failures?” he asked on Twitter.

In Kolhapur, a youth wing of NCP presented a memorandum to Shahupuri police station, demanding registration of a ‘case’ against crabs.

“If the minister thinks crabs caused the breach, then a case should be registered against the crabs under Section 302 of IPC for murder,” NCP state youth wing chief Mehboob Sheikh said.