Can religious institutions fund any government directly? Should they be allowed to openly indicate their favouritism for a particular political party?
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government has borrowed Rs. 500 crore from Shirdi Saibaba Temple Trust to complete Nilwande irrigation project, as reported TOI. This is an interest-free loan given to secure and complete all the pending works in the irrigation project which will provide drinking water for Ahmednagar district. Saibaba Temple Trust and Godawari-Marathwada Irrigation Development have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the same, as per reports.
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Nilwande dam, also called as Upper Pravara dam, in Maharashtra is the second largest dam on the Pravara river. The dam is located near Akole, Ahmednagar district.
The request came from the government of Maharashtra which is headed by BJP in alliance with the Shiv Sena. The trust’s chairperson Dr Suresh Kashinath Haware is a BJP member himself and has given the nod to the request made by the state. However, while the loan has been approved, no repayment schedule has been fixed as of now. The move is unprecedented as no state corporation has been granted an interest-free loan before.
The proposal was cleared in a meeting chaired by Fadnavis on 1st February this year, and the order to release the funds in two tranches was given on Saturday. The total cost of the project is Rs. 1,200 crore, while the trust will release Rs. 500 crore for the irrigation project. The work on this project has been long pending.
As per sources, the Shirdi temple gets nearly 70,000 visitors on a daily basis and this number could touch 3.5 Lakhs per day during the festive season. There is acute shortage of water faced in many regions of Ahmednagar, which is approximately 85 kms from Shirdi. Other surrounding villages such as Akole, Sangamner, Rahuri, Kopargain and Shirdi and other villages will also benefit once the projected is completed.